PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Scott Boras said he wasn't specifically talking about the Mets. But Stephen Drew's agent sure made it sound as if he was talking about the Mets.
"I think the earnestness of a franchise and their desire to win is always appraised by their conduct in pursuing the available talent," Boras told Newsday when asked about the Mets and free-agent shortstop Drew in a telephone interview Friday.
Boras has not shied away from tweaking the Mets in the past about whether they truly have a desire to win. While being cautious, he appeared to do so again Friday.
When asked about Drew's status and the "qualifying offer" process that has left the 30-year-old in free-agent limbo, Boras turned the answer into a soliloquy on whether certain teams are in it to win it.
"The bigger issue is the credibility of the teams that are deficient," Boras said. "They have known weaknesses. We're talking about a shortstop that's in the top eight in baseball, is fourth in OPS, drove in  runs last year and is one of the better defenders at his position. When these players are available and clubs that have weaknesses are not pursuing them, a question of the integrity of what the goals of the organization are come to mind."
Asked whether he was speaking of the Mets, Boras said: "I'm not speaking about anyone specifically. I'm just speaking generally about the reason that these players are coveted, the reason that these players are so valuable, the reason they sign late, is teams get to look in spring training and the obvious weaknesses of clubs is revealed. The fans of the respective teams really get to look inside what can really help their team and the fact that this talent is available . . . without the detriment of losing a first-round pick. It's rare that you have that opportunity."
The Mets would not lose a first-round pick if they signed Drew. But they appear unlikely to add Drew, who hit .253 with 13 homers for the World Series champion Red Sox in 2013. Drew, who made $9.5 million last season, turned down a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Red Sox.
"I have certainly had dialogue with them," Boras said of the Mets. "The message has always been that they have interest in Stephen but they wanted to see how things went in spring training."
Things haven't gone great for the Mets at shortstop in spring training. Ruben Tejada has made three errors on routine plays in his last six games and has two hits in 18 at-bats after going 1-for-3 Friday night. Still, manager Terry Collins said Thursday he told Tejada, " 'You're the shortstop here.' "
Meanwhile, Drew is working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute in Miami Gardens, Fla. Boras said he does not know if Drew will sign with any club before Opening Day.
General manager Sandy Alderson -- who has sparred publicly with Boras in the past -- said he had "no comment" when asked about Boras' remarks.
Earlier this week, though, Alderson said: "From a management standpoint, I'd say, 'Hey, I'm surprised a few guys haven't taken the qualifying offer.' Maybe they should have. Maybe they should have last year. Maybe they should have this year."
Replied Boras: "I think it's self-serving for management in baseball [to say that]. There's a reason that no player has accepted the qualifying offer. And the reason is, one, these players waited for six years to get to free agency and they're very talented and they have teams contacting them in early November to let them know that they have interest in signing them to multiyear contracts. And secondarily, the reason a statured free agent does not accept a qualifying offer is because he would be in the very same position the following year if he did."
Notes & quotes: Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each had five at-bats as DHs in a minor-league game . . . Zack Wheeler allowed one run in 42/3 innings as the Mets' split squad lost to the Marlins in Jupiter, 1-0. The other half of the Mets' squad, plus Alderson and Collins, left in the afternoon for two exhibition games vs. the Cubs in Las Vegas Saturday and Sunday . . . Former Stony Brook pitcher Tom Koehler threw five shutout innings for Miami.