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GM: Don't expect quick Jose Reyes deal

NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson plans to reach out to the representatives for free-agent-to-be Jose Reyes in the next couple of days.

Still, Alderson indicated, Mets fans should not count on the shortstop re-signing during the organization's exclusive negotiating window. Open bidding begins five days after the World Series.

"I don't really want to speculate on what might happen or not happen before his exclusive negotiating period expires," Alderson said Thursday, a day after the Mets finished his first season as GM with a 77-85 record and fourth-place finish. "However, if history is any guide, most players who get to this point don't see any reason to make a decision within the next 30 days. They're that close to free agency. I wouldn't want people to expect that something is going to happen in October."

Alderson confirmed previous ESPNNewYork.com reports that he expects the 2012 payroll to fall in the $100 million to $110 million range.

"I think we're going to be somewhere in that range," Alderson said. "I mean, I don't see us going below $100 million. But as I think as is pretty well documented, I don't see us being where we are today, either."

He identified this year's final payroll figure as roughly $140 million.

The Mets have a combined $55 million tied up in Johan Santana, Jason Bay and David Wright for 2012 -- with comparable commitments to those players in 2013 as well, assuming Wright's team option is exercised. So Alderson acknowledged re-signing Reyes would greatly reduce the organization's flexibility for the next two offseasons in terms of pursuing notable free agents.

"You're right to point it out," Alderson said. "If you look at where we are currently, with or without Jose we have a very small number of players and a large amount of money tied up in those players. Adding Jose would contribute to that same situation and create less flexibility for us than we would like to have. That's something we have to take into account. But there are plusses and minuses to every situation. We just have to weigh those."

Alderson offered no indication the Mets would pursue another big-ticket free agent if Reyes signs elsewhere. Still, the Mets would have more money available in that case to make signings -- particularly to retool the bullpen.

"I'm not ruling it out," Alderson said regarding making a large free agent expenditure other than Reyes. "But, at the same time, we will try to be as creative as we possibly can and look at what's available across the board. We could get into a free agency negotiation beyond Jose if, for example, the market is different than we anticipate or we trade somebody."

Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and family received a favorable ruling this week from a U.S. District Court judge that could limit their liability in a lawsuit trying to recover funds to distribute to victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Alderson portrayed that as good news, but largely immaterial to this offseason's payroll.

"As long as it's not resolved completely for the Wilpons, I think it certainly has a lingering effect on them," Alderson said. "Does that translate directly to what our payroll would be or what have you? I don't think so. On the other hand, I think things are looking brighter today than they did a week or so ago."

Big-ticket free agents such as Reyes often take their time deciding during the winter, trying to create a bidding frenzy by extending the process.

Given the Mets' available dollars for other pursuits is greatly contingent upon Reyes' decision, can the Mets afford to wait for a verdict from the shortstop? Alderson explained that even if there is no resolution with Reyes, the direction of the bidding should allow the organization to assess the likelihood of him re-signing and permit team officials to pivot to other pursuits if warranted.

"A lot of what we might consider is dependent on what happens with Jose," Alderson said. "At the same time, one of the things we will have to do is constantly reassess where we are and what the likelihood is we're going to be able to re-sign him, and what the alternatives are and whether they will disappear or reappear. It's a dynamic environment, which we'll have to stay on top of."

Internally, the Mets already are developing a level to which they would be willing to spend on Reyes.

"It would be foolish for us not to have thought through this and where we think things might end up and what our choking point is versus what somebody else's choking point might be," Alderson said. "... There's obviously uncertainty about where he'll be next year, but we will see where that takes us."

Other topics addressed included Alderson's dissatisfaction with the Mets' 77-85 record.

"One of the disappointments for me was that we started poorly and we ended poorly," Alderson said. "As I've said before, first impressions are important. Last impressions are important."

Alderson acknowledged some of that underperformance was "self-inflicted" by trading Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

Alderson said the number of disabled list time spent by the Mets this year was roughly only 30 days more than last season. He was not yet prepared to endorse the return of the team's trainers, or the entire coaching staff for that matter.

"We want to make a decision on all of those staff decisions as quickly as possible," Alderson said. "But I'd rather not comment at this point. We may have some changes. We may not."

Alderson said the positive of the Mets' injury woes is that players such as Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee and Justin Turner emerged with the opportunities.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.