Members of the Mets front office had a "secret visit" with free agent outfielder Michael Bourn last week, reports the New York Post. General Manager Sandy Alderson and Assistant General Manager John Ricco traveled to Bourn's hometown of Houston for what appeared to be a casual conversation over dinner. Bourn is represented by Scott Boras who was also at the meeting.
It was more a getting-to-know-you session than a dollars-and-cents negotiation, at a time when the dollars and cents remain among the most significant hurdles in doing a deal.
The Mets’ strategy has essentially been this: Patiently wait and hope Bourn’s market evaporates as spring training nears, moving him to a) turn to them as the best remaining option and b) lower his financial demands.
Bourn, 30, rejected the Braves' one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offer in November and has reportedly demanded a five-year deal; the Mets are hesitant to offer anything more than a three-year contract.
A team signing a free agent who was offered a contract would lose its first-round selection unless it has a top-10 pick. Technically, the Mets had the 10th worst record in the Majors last season, but the Pirates receive a top-10 compensation pick for failing to sign their first pick last June. This would push the Mets down to the 11th pick, adding a significant disadvantage to signing Bourn. Bourn hit .278/.348/.391 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 stolen bases with the Braves last season.