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Michael Bourn's contract demands appear out of Mets' range

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn reacts after striking

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn reacts after striking out during the second inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies. (Sept. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

It's going to take a five-year contract to sign free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn, a source confirmed Monday, and the Mets have balked at that demand.

The Mets have approached free agents slowly, hoping that prices will fall as the start of spring training draws near. But that strategy has yet to pay off in their efforts to find an outfielder.

Bourn, 30, is the best remaining position player left on the free-agent market. The two-time Gold Glove Award winner is regarded as an excellent centerfielder whose speed translates well on the bases. Though Bourn is neither the power bat nor the righthanded hitter that the Mets have been seeking, he nevertheless would improve the Mets' current collection of platoon outfielders.

The Mets have been willing to offer backloaded multiyear contracts if it means signing a player who would upgrade the outfield. But it's unclear whether Bourn -- and his agent, Scott Boras -- would entertain such an arrangement. The Mariners reportedly also are interested in Bourn, who hit .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs, 42 stolen bases and 96 runs scored for the Braves last season.

Even if the Mets were to find common ground on money, they likely would be forced to forfeit this year's 11th overall amateur draft pick as compensation for signing Bourn. The Mets have looked into an exemption that would allow them to keep their draft choice on grounds that they originally held a top 10 pick, protected under the collective bargaining agreement. Without the exemption, the price for Bourn might be too high for the Mets, who are reluctant to lose a first-round selection in the draft.

Duda swinging the bat

Outfielder Lucas Duda hit in the batting cage and faced live pitching at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Mets announced on their Twitter feed. The activity bodes well for Duda, who had surgery in November to repair his fractured right wrist. He suffered the injury while moving furniture.

Banner Day rescheduled

Banner Day has been moved to May 11, a day game against the Pirates, after fans raised concerns about the original date. Banner Day first was scheduled for May 26, but ESPN announced that it had picked up the game for its "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast. The new date was set as a result of a fan vote through the team's website last week.

New York Sports