The Mets and free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew have been linked throughout the winter -- and for good reason. While team officials have praised incumbent Ruben Tejada's offseason efforts to get into better shape, it wasn't all that long ago that the underachieving Tejada appeared to be on the outs.
So from the start, the Mets have appeared to be a natural landing spot for Drew.
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Yet conflicting accounts emerged Sunday about the Mets' involvement with him.
One person with knowledge of the Mets' thinking said the sides haven't been doing much talking lately and that "there has not been much dialogue at all" about Drew. But another source challenged that notion, saying the sides have engaged in "continuous discussion."
Even as the opening of camp draws near, Drew's market remains difficult to gauge.
Scott Boras, his agent, has insisted publicly that multiple teams have maintained interest in his client. But the Red Sox and Mets -- believed to be Drew's top suitors -- have given no indication that any deal is near.
General manager Sandy Alderson recently told MLB.com that the Mets are "unlikely" to sign Drew. Meanwhile, ESPN New York reported this past week that Drew is seeking an opt-out clause after the first year of any multiyear contract, an apparent deal-breaker for the Mets.
Of course, things often change quickly for those who remain unsigned so late in the free-agent process.
Boras has succeeded in landing deals for clients who have lingered on the market. Just last offseason, Boras enticed the Mets to jump into the bidding for outfielder Michael Bourn, who eventually signed a multiyear deal with the Indians.
By that standard, plenty of time remains. Bourn did not sign until the second week of February last year. And Mets position players aren't scheduled to report until next Monday.
Drew hardly is alone among the more prominent unsigned free agents. Nelson Cruz, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Kendrys Morales remain available.
Drew, 30, hit .253 with 13 homers in 124 games for the World Series champion Red Sox last season. Tejada, 24, hit .202 with no homers in 57 games for the Mets in a season wrecked by injuries and a demotion.