Jose Reyes: No talk until season over

NEW YORK -- New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, who is due to be a free agent at the end of the season, has informed the organization he does not intend to negotiate during the regular season.

The 28-year-old Reyes can become a free agent after the World Series and could be one of the biggest prizes on the open market next winter. He said he wants to remain with the Mets, but doesn't want any off-the-field distractions right now.

"Right now I don't want any distractions," Reyes said. "I just want to continue to play. We're going to have plenty of time in the offseason to make this happen."

General manager Sandy Alderson, trying to gauge Reyes' financial demands to make a more informed trading-deadline decision, called agent Peter Greenberg last week to initiate discussions. Greenberg was in Japan at the time, and met with Reyes on Monday for two hours at the shortstop's Long Island home after returning to the United States. Reyes told his agent he did not want the distraction of speaking about a contract in-season, and that sentiment was relayed to the Mets.

Alderson said he made the contact public to prevent continued chatter about the topic.

"We will respect his wishes and hopefully pick up negotiations at the end of the season," Alderson said.

The GM expected the announcement would trigger increased inquiries for Reyes by other clubs before the July 31 trade deadline.

Still, Alderson said, Reyes is in a different category from other players and suggested that the team's record at the end of next month would not be the determinative factor in whether Reyes is traded, as it would be with other players, presumably such as Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

Alderson said that should not suggest a degree of confidence in the Mets' ability to re-sign Reyes, though.

"All I wanted to suggest was if we're playing lousy, it doesn't mean Jose is gone," Alderson said. "That's basically the point I'm trying to make. If we are playing lousy, are we a seller? Generally speaking -- maybe, probably."

The Mets' situation, of course, is more dicey due to their financial problems.

The club's owners are facing a $1 billion lawsuit because of their business with Bernard Madoff, and it's unclear how long it will take for the case to play out.
Fred Wilpon told Sports Illustrated last month his team is "bleeding cash" and could lose up to $70 million this year. Reducing the payroll for 2012 seems likely.

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn has agreed to buy a minority stake in the team for $200 million, and the deal is expected to be completed by the end of June.

But in a recent profile of the embattled owner in The New Yorker, Wilpon said this about Reyes, who has a history of leg injuries: "He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money. He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."

Crawford signed a $142 million, seven-year deal with the Boston Red Sox last winter. Whether Reyes scores that kind of contract remains to be seen, but he has comparable skills and some of their career numbers are strikingly similar.

Reyes insisted his preference is to remain a Met, and this is solely designed to maximize his concentration on the field.

"Nothing changed," Reyes said. "I want to stay here. Like I've always said, I want to be a New York Met all my career."

The speedy leadoff man went into Tuesday night's game against Oakland hitting .341 and leading the majors with 12 triples and 35 multihit games. He was tops in the NL with 103 hits and also ranked among the league leaders in runs, doubles, steals and total bases.

He's been so dynamic that manager Terry Collins handed out blue Mets skull caps -- just like the one Reyes wears under his helmet -- to all the players Tuesday, hoping some of his magic might wear off.

Rookie infielder Justin Turner even donned fake dreadlocks under his cap before batting practice.

"I think he's feeling out of place all by himself out there with his skull cap on," Collins said. "So I thought today we'd make him feel at home. Lighten things up a little bit."

Last weekend, Reyes dismissed speculation that he was considering changing agents from Greenberg to Scott Boras, saying there's "no chance" he will switch.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.