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Mets rumors: Michael Bourn a real possibility?

New York has petitioned Major League Baseball to alter Bourn's draft pick compensation were they to sign him.

Greg Fiume

With Scott Hairston off the table, the New York Mets appear to be getting serious about their pursuit of top free agent Michael Bourn, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post:

Michael Bourn has gone from barely a consideration by the Mets to a "realistic" possibility for the team’s beleaguered outfield, a major league source told The Post last night.

According to the source, general manager Sandy Alderson has softened his position in recent weeks and seems more willing to part with the Mets’ top draft pick for 2013.

Prior to the Shaun Marcum signing this morning, the Mets had about $15 million left to spend in payroll, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, which would be right around the average annual value that Bourn and super-agent Scott Boras are seeking.

The Mets are also petitioning Major League Baseball to alter the draft pick compensation tied to Bourn so that they do not have to concede their top pick in next year's draft, and Anthony McCarron and John Harper of the New York Daily News believe that the club's interest in Bourn could hinge on this decision.

The top 10 picks in the draft are protected from players tied to qualifying offers, and the Mets sit just outside that at No. 11. However, New York had the No. 10 pick in the draft until the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign Mark Appel last July, pushing the Bucs back into the top 10 this year and bumping the Mets to the 11th pick.

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If the club is successful in their petition, they would have to give up only a second-round pick were they to sign Bourn.

The Braves and Rangers are widely believed to be Bourn's most likely landing spots, but Heyman speculates that the Mariners, Orioles, Cubs, Rays, and a few others could also get in on the bidding as spring camp approaches.

The 30-year-old Bourn is by far the best position player remaining on the open market. The speedy center fielder hit .274/.348/.391 with 42 stolen bases and a career-high nine home runs in 155 games with the Braves last season, his seventh in the bigs.

In addition to Bourn and Hairston, the Mets also discussed Justin Upton with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but GM Sandy Alderson balked at a trade when the D'Backs asked for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, per Puma. The Braves are in the thick of Upton dealings at the moment, so if he does go to Atlanta that could open a window for the Mets to nab Bourn.