DALLAS (AP) - All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and the Miami Marlins provided quite a warmup for the winter meetings.
A day before the annual swap session officially began, the NL batting champion and the Marlins reached agreement on a $106 million, six-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the free-agent deal had not yet been announced.
The 28-year-old Reyes had spent his entire career with the New York Mets. But the Marlins courted him hard, even though they already had All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Reyes will join another key free-agent acquisition, All-Star closer Heath Bell, when the Marlins move into their new ballpark next year.
Reyes, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder were the top free agents available going into the weekend, all with a chance of finding a landing spot for the future. Gil Hodges, Ron Santo and Minnie Minoso could lock up a legacy forever this week.
Baseball’s four-day gathering starts in earnest Monday, and speculation about more moves was rampant.
Will the New York Yankees work out a swap for Cubs pitcher Matt Garza? Will some bullpen add A’s All-Star closer Andrew Bailey? Will C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle strike riches?
A couple of trades have already been made since Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Huge swaps, not yet.
Going into the weekend, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had a theory on why there had been a lack of movement.
“It may have something to do with the top free agents not having moved, Pujols and Fielder and Jose Reyes,” Alderson said then. “It may just be the tension _ not the tension, but the dynamic between clubs and free agents. The free agents would like to think that a certain market exists. And the clubs, at this point, are holding out some hope that that market doesn’t exist.”
“But it can all change in three days in Dallas,” he said.
As Alderson’s team discovered, it can happen even faster than that.
Surely, there were other general managers itching to get busy. Six teams have hired new GMs, and Houston will become the seventh.
A big name who will be available, if any team wants to take the risk: Manny Ramirez.
Major League Baseball announced Sunday the All-Star slugger had applied to be reinstated from the voluntary retired list and his drug suspension had been cut from 100 games to 50. MLB and the players’ union agreed to trim the penalty because he sat out most of last season, when he played a week for Tampa Bay. He turns 40 in May and has 555 career home runs.