NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has met with the representatives for shortstop Jose Reyes. However, Alderson added, he does not expect a quick resolution to the All-Star shortstop's free agency.
Open bidding on free agents begins Thursday.
"Things are going to go slowly, which I think is typical of most if not all free agents," Alderson said. "Very few sign during the exclusive period."
"Take it out of the Jose Reyes context into just the general free agent context," Alderson continued. "There are some situations where a player might indicate what it would take for him to forgo the free agent market. There are some situations where a club might try to make a preemptive offer to preclude that (open bidding).
"I don't think either one of those things is going to happen in this case. I don't think Jose is going to give us a number for which he would forgo free agency. I don't think we're in a position to make him what I would characterize as a preemptive offer."
Regardless, Alderson maintained, the Mets would not go into rebuilding mode if Reyes departs.
"We're not going to punt 2012 if Jose doesn't re-sign," Alderson said.
That means, in all likelihood, no trading of third baseman David Wright this offseason for prospects.
Asked about his level of confidence that Wright remains a Met, Alderson replied: "I couldn't say that with any degree of certainty about any player that we have. Do I think that he'll be a Met next year? Yes."
Alderson confirmed that the payroll will be in the $100 million to $110 million range in 2012, a slashing of as much as $40 million off the payroll this past season. The GM added that he likely would not spend all of that money up front to allow for midseason maneuvers and bonuses in contracts. That means the Mets' payroll actually may be less than $100 million on Opening Day.
Still, Alderson insisted, waiting on Reyes into December or January will not hamstring other pursuits. He suggested that the amount of money devoted to other free agents is not overly contingent upon Reyes remaining or leaving.
"It's not like we have an unlimited amount of money to spend," Alderson said. "But, at the same time, I don't think there are a lot of 'either-ors' that we have to face. ... In other words, we have an independent sense of what a closer would be worth to us based on what's out there. So if we have Jose, would we opt for somebody lower in that range rather than higher in that range? It's possible, but I don't think they're that dependent."
Alderson agreed that projecting the contract Reyes ultimately will receive is difficult, since the position players who generally command the most in free agency are sluggers. It also is unclear how teams will price Reyes' history of hamstring injuries into their bids.
Still, speaking generally, Alderson does not believe the days of seven-year contracts are over across baseball.
"The way I look at it is you've got 30 different teams, and they all lie somewhere on a continuum," Alderson said. "At the one end of the continuum is the desire to win and be as competitive as possible. At the other end of the spectrum is the desire to make money or break even or what have you.
"There are clubs on both ends of the spectrum, and a lot in the middle. And every year they change. So do I expect there to be at least one seven-year contract this year? Yeah."
Alderson said the Mets already have formulated the level at which they are willing to bid on Reyes.
"I think it's fair to say we've thought about this," Alderson said. "We have a sense of where we would be comfortable, or slightly less comfortable -- (and) totally uncomfortable."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.