While former Reds/Nats GM Jim Bowden compares the Mets’ lack of urgency in tying up David Wright to the club’s handling of Jose Reyes, Newsday’s Marc Carig warns those expecting any Amazin’ acquisitions, “with upward of 80 percent of their roughly $100-million payroll already earmarked for returning players, a splashy free agent likely won’t fall into the Mets’ price range.”

With little wiggle room, a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking said the Mets likely will follow last winter’s free-agent blueprint, when they passed on a major signing in favor of spreading their limited dollars with several low-cost signings.

What the Mets lack in dollars for free agency they hold in chips for trades — if they choose to put them in play. But if not, Alderson and the Mets must rummage for bargains.

The Mets likely will kick around the market for catchers after getting weak production in 2012 from a quartet led by Josh Thole. However, catching is one of the thinnest positions in the game, and veterans such as Russell Martin and A.J. Pierzynski may be out of the Mets’ reach.

The crop of free-agent outfielders features an intriguing candidate in Melky Cabrera, whose career season with the Giants was derailed by a 50-game steroid suspension. The switch hitter is a candidate to take a one-year deal to revive his career, which could put the Mets in play. Even though the Mets appear priced out of signing top-shelf outfielders, the market may have enough depth that veterans such as Shane Victorino may trickle down to an affordable range.