- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - Jose Reyes felt the love from the Miami Marlins. And the money.

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.”

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 New York 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.”

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.”

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.

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