DALLAS (WFAN/AP) — Jose Reyes felt the love from the Miami Marlins. And the money.

What did he feel he got from the Mets? An opportunity to play in the big league — and that’s about it. No formal offer was ever made to the fan favorite.

“If they wanted me back I should be there in New York,” Reyes told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Wednesday. “Right now I’m a Miami Marlin.”

After trading Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran, All-Stars are disappearing as fast from the Citi Field home clubhouse as spectators are from the stands. Reyes sounded hurt that the Mets made little effort to retain him.

“If you’re asking whether I should have sent him a box of chocolates, perhaps I should have done that,” general manager Sandy Alderson said. “But on the other hand, the box of chocolates would have cost $106 million.”

Listen: Mets manager Terry Collins with Sweeny & Ed

When the free-agent signing period began last month, the Marlins wanted to meet the All-Star shortstop right away — as in not a minute to spare.

So owner Jeffrey Loria, team president David Samson and their top baseball officials arranged a midnight rendezvous with Reyes and his agent at a table outside Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, the New York hotel famous for hosting President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe a half-century ago.

“12:01. Those guys are crazy,” Reyes said Wednesday, when his $106 million, six-year contract was finalized. “They showed me a lot of love.”

For months, Reyes had been waiting for the Mets to make an offer. Alderson said Friday and early Saturday that he thought maybe some of the parameters he suggested could develop into an offer, but by Saturday night it was clear to him the Mets weren’t willing to pay what was needed.

The realization of the switch dawned on Reyes on Sunday night, when agent Peter Greenberg accepted the Marlins’ offer. Greenberg said Reyes’ reaction was simple: “I’m a Fish.”

Reyes joined a team that suddenly aspires to be among baseball’s big spenders. When the winter meetings began Monday, the Marlins finalized a $27 million, three-year contract with closer Heath Bell.

A few hours after the Marlins introduced Reyes, manager Ozzie Guillen said the team had reached a deal with free-agent pitcher Mark Buehrle. And the week has been dominated by Miami’s now-ended pursuit of three-time NL MVP Albert Pujols.

Leaving the cash-strapped Mets, who signed him when he was 16, Reyes accepted an offer that pays him $10 million in each of the next two seasons, $16 million in 2014 and $22 million in each of the final three years. Miami has a $22 million option for 2018 with a $4 million buyout, which could raise the total to $124 million.

Reeling from three straight losing seasons, $70 million in losses and a lawsuit seeking to recover money from their owners for the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Mets never made a formal proposal to retain their first NL batting champion.

“They didn’t make a real offer, so that means they don’t want me there,” Reyes said. “I need to move on.”

Wearing the new look of the Marlins — a cap with a blue, white, orange and yellow “M” with a swoosh that looks like it could be a logo for a fast food chain — Reyes’ dreadlocks dangled onto the white jersey of the team, which was renamed from the Florida Marlins as it prepares to move into its $515 million downtown ballpark next season.

It appears as Reyes’ bank account swells, his hair will shorten.

“We have team rules. Period,” Loria said. “Everybody adheres to them.”

Samson said he arrived at 11:56 p.m. for the initial meeting late on the night of Nov. 2 into Nov. 3.

“Jeffrey walked into the Hotel Carlyle with a long overcoat because it was about 12 degrees out, and under the overcoat was the Jose Reyes new Marlins jersey that had not been released yet,” he said. “A few other people in the bar thought that this was some sort of strange, freaky show, because the owner of the team stood up and literally went like this, and underneath was Jose Reyes’ jersey,” Samson said, pulling apart his jacket by the lapels. “We then ordered some drinks and stayed around for a couple of hours just talking and getting to know each other, and a few days after that Jose came down to Miami and saw the ballpark. So 12:01 to us was always a big deal because we wanted to show Jose from the beginning that we had an idea.”

A four-time All-Star, the 28-year-old Reyes hit .337 and also topped the league with 16 triples, while also stealing 39 bases. But hamstring injuries have limited him to no more than 133 games in any of the last three years.

“It’s a perfect situation in Miami,” Reyes said. “We have a lot of talent there and the new stadium, the weather, close to Dominican, a lot of Spanish people there, so I think I’m going to like it and enjoy it as much as I can.”

His arrival means All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez will have to move to third base. Loria said he spoke with him.

“It was an upbeat conversation. He’s going to be a member of our team,” the owner said.

Ramirez tried to shoot down speculation of a possible trade or refusal to switch positions.

“Crazy stuff going around,” he wrote on Twitter. “Im just relaxing with my family and getting mentally and physically strong and ready for next season.”

Mets fans: Are you bitter about what happened with Reyes? Be heard in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. Avi says:

    The Wilpons keep claiming they lost $70M last year. They are a private company so no outsider can see their balance sheet. Maybe they earned a multiple of that the years before so they may still be well ahead of the game. Good businessmen realize they have to give the customer value or else they will lose them. So what value are they giving the fans now. They are a bunch of cowards, pretending they were interested in re-signing Reyes. They should have come out and said what their plans are. They will be sorry when they see all the empty seats at Citifield this year, including mine.

  2. Avi says:

    Not funny at all. It’s a sad commentary that this team has fallen so low. I think I won’t renew my season tix. If I want to see a minor league team, I can go to Cyclones games. Also, I won’t get ripped off on parking there. These guys are real cowards. They can’t even come out and say they’re not interested. They think the fans are so dumb they’ll believe this garbage. Wait until they see all the empty seats at Citifield while the Mets battle for last place.

    1. The Best Thing About The Mets says:

      What so sad about it? We’re all having fun on the Mets fans crying.

      The Mets and the Mets fans are the best material ever for Letterman & Leno.

      I always remember Letterman’s sketch on Piazza I’m not gay.

  3. Rich from Lake Como says:

    I’ll buy Saul Katz, Fred and Jeff Wilpon all the chocolates they want if they will just sell the Mets… Alderson is only doing Bud Selig’s bidding. He is a.) Eliminating a big market bidder for free agents; and b.) keeping an eye on the franchise as its financial situation spirals out of control. Sandy will let Bud know when it’s beyond the point of no return. Then the Wilpon’s and Katz will walk the plank. It’s a shame that may take 2 or 3 years.

  4. Don says:

    Met ownership has turned this team into a laughing stock. Sandy is merely the foil hired to carry out the plan. Been a Met fan for more than 40 years – Its now officially an embarrassment. All we can do as fans to voice our dissatisfaction is to stay away. That’s what I’m gonna do. No need to watch on SNY either. I’ll get the low lights on MLB network or ESPN.

  5. Paul says:

    A “box of chocolates”? What is this, a joke to Alderson? I’ve lost all faith in him. All I see is years of mediocrity. I’ll send Alderson a box of chocolates if he packs up and leaves The Mets.

    1. Me says:

      maybe some people should get off of Alderson’s back. Alderson sees it as running a business. maybe he’ll send you a box of chocolates if you leave him alone, Paul

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