- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson indicated he has not had any recent conversations with the representatives for free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes, but Alderson expects to reengage Reyes' team as next week's winter meetings approach in Dallas.
"I certainly would hope we'll have conversations certainly by the time we get to Dallas, or at Dallas," Alderson said Thursday afternoon. "There have not been any discussions in recent days, but I do expect to have them over the next handful of days."
The industry-wide expectation is that the Mets will be outbid for Reyes' services and instead use Ruben Tejada at shortstop in 2012. Still, beyond the Miami Marlins' overt interest, which has included a tour of their new stadium, little has seeped out about the level of interest in Reyes around baseball.
"As far as the market for Jose is concerned, I only know what I read in the paper," Alderson said. "There haven't been additional reports that I've heard about other offers. So I'm not sure there's much more clarity than we had when the first time the Miami visit/proposal was reported."
Alderson said the Mets' clear-cut priority for the offseason is to secure relief pitching. Ideally, the Mets would like to sign two relievers with closing experience to use at the back end of the bullpen, while limiting the salary commitments. Free agents Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Matt Capps and Octavio Dotel appear to fit into that category.
"I don't know if there's anything as glaring as our bullpen issue that we faced at the end of last year and continue to address," Alderson said.
Alderson also identified catcher as an area potentially in need of attention as well as second base "depending what happens," presumably with Reyes. The bench also needs to be addressed.
The Mets are likely to non-tender Ronny Paulino at the Dec. 12 deadline and are looking for a righty-hitting, defensive-oriented catcher to pair with Josh Thole. Mike Nickeas is an in-house candidate for that role.
Alderson denied reports that Jorge Posada had reached out to the Mets and was rebuffed.
Assuming Reyes departs, Tejada would man shortstop rather than second base, leaving a vacancy at the latter position. The Mets' best in-house candidate would be Daniel Murphy to man second base, but sources said he is being made available in trades. And Murphy twice has suffered knee injuries while trying to learn the position.
Alderson acknowledged the bench also needs to be addressed, with outfielders Scott Hairston and Willie Harris free agents and Paulino likely out. Assuming Reyes departs, the Mets also will need to sign a backup infielder capable of playing shortstop. The Mets reportedly have expressed interest in Jack Wilson.
Alderson said the trade market is not yet fully developed.
"I don't have a good feel for the trade market because I don't feel we will know much about that market until we get to Dallas," Alderson said. "In spite of the fact there was a GM and owners meetings (in Milwaukee from Nov. 14-17), I don't think the trade market is well-developed at this point. We're aware of some opportunities in the trade market for closers/relievers, for example, but I really believe the trade market and the free-agent market are connected in many ways.
"Whatever value is reflected in the free-agent market is going, to some extent, be reflected in the trade market as well. The reliever market right now is a little bit hard to predict. The signings that have taken place so far I think have emboldened agents to this point. On the other hand, I think there are plenty of relievers out there. It's not clear to me there are plenty of landing spots -- certainly not plenty of landing spots for big-ticket relievers who may be looking to close."
As he did a year ago, in his first offseason at the helm, Alderson predicted the Mets would leave the winter meetings with some new player -- even if it was simply a Rule 5 pick. The Mets took reliever Pedro Beato and infielder Brad Emaus in that draft a year ago. Beato stuck for the year and became Mets property.
Asked how many players he would return from Dallas with, Alderson said: "We could come back with none, although I'd be surprised if we didn't take somebody in the Rule 5 draft. It's just hard to predict. And I wouldn't want to put a number out there that is unrealistic."
Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.
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