The New York Mets are "very motivated" to sign free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, but the team remains adamant about keeping its first-round draft pick, according to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News.
If the Mets and Bourn are able to reach an agreement, the decision of the draft pick case would be in the hands of an independent arbitrator and not the commissioner's office.
The Mets currently have the 11th-overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. The top 10 picks in the draft are protected, meaning the team would have to give up a second-round draft choice rather than its first-round selection if it signs a Type-A free agent.
As far as the 2012 standings go, the Mets were the 10th-worst team in the majors. However, because the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign their top draft choice last year, they have received a top-10 pick as compensations. This moved the Mets up one slot from 10th to 11th.
Nothing is official at this point, but Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that, according to sources, if the Mets are able to reach an agreement with Bourn their pick would be protected. He adds that MLB is more concerned about protecting the teams with the worst 10 records rather than the first 10 picks of the draft.
Either way, it sounds like the Mets are only interested in pursuing a ruling on the draft pick situation if they are able to reach an agreement with Bourn, so it may not even require a ruling. However, it would be interesting to see the outcome of the potential case.
As far as the potential contract goes, Bourn is reportedly seeking a five-year commitment. The Mets don't seem to be willing to go beyond four guaranteed years, and they're not convinced that Bourn has received an offer greater than $40 million.
Whatever the length of Bourn's next deal, Bowden reports that it is expected to come with an average annual salary closer to $14 or $15 million than $11 or $12 million.