For a change, Jose Reyes isn't playing for a fourth-place team.

But instead of sipping champagne in the NL East penthouse, the former Mets shortstop is enduring life in the basement, playing for a dreadful Marlins team that has become a cautionary tale in free spending.

"When I left the Mets, I knew I was going to a better situation," Reyes told The Post before the Mets' 4-3 11-inning loss to the Marlins Tuesday night. "The team we put together on the field was a very good team to compete in our division, but it didn't happen that way. Nobody thought we were going to be behind the New York Mets at this point."

BOX SCORE

The cold reality for Reyes is the Marlins are guaranteed a fifth-place finish, with the Mets locked into No. 4 for the fourth straight year. It came after a winter in which Reyes took $106 million from the Marlins to leave Flushing.

But that was just the beginning for the Marlins, who also signed lefty starter Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell to contracts totaling $85 million. Bell has been among baseball's biggest flops, with a 4.95 ERA and seven blown saves in 26 chances, entering last night.

Reyes entered play batting .284 with 11 homers, 57 RBIs and 38 stolen bases. But he's most proud of the fact he's played 159 games and avoided the disabled list for the first time since 2008.

"I was able to stay on the field," Reyes said. "That is something I feel very proud about, and I think next year is going to be a better year for me."