The Mets have already been linked to Shin-Soo Choo, but ESPN's Adam Rubin writes that their interest appears to have a limit. The Mets are interested in Choo for something similar to Michael Bourn's contract but aren't likely to go beyond that level to sign the 31-year-old. Rubin emphasizes the four years that Bourn signed for as opposed to the $48MM, so perhaps there's some leeway in terms of average annual value (though that's merely my speculation).
Additionally, Rubin notes that Choo appears to be the lone free agent for whom the Mets would be willing to surrender a draft pick. The Mets aren't likely to pursue other free agents that turn down qualifying offers, even if they end up with a protected first-round pick.
Choo, in his first and likely only season with Cincinnati, is hitting .286/.424/.466 with 21 homers and 20 steals — the third 20/20 campaign of what has been a strong big league career to date. His defense has graded out as a negative, but that's in part due to the fact that he's being played out of position in center field. However, both UZR and DRS pegged his glove as a negative in his final season with the Indians in right field as well.
If agent Scott Boras' recent comments are any indicator, four years won't even be in the ballpark, at least not early on. Boras recently stated that he feels $100MM is on the low end of what Choo deserves in his first big free agent contract.
Even if that's more a negotiation tactic of starting high, it does seem that Boras will be able to find a deal that tops Bourn's contract for Choo, though it's not a guarantee. Boras himself represents Bourn and began last offseason seeking a five- or six-year commitment for the speedster before settling for a four-year deal with Cleveland in February. Of course, that was a unique situation, as two of Bourn's biggest suitors acquired speedy center fielders from the Twins via trade. The Nats landed Denard Span, and the Phillies picked up Ben Revere, effectively removing each deep-pocketed club from the Bourn sweepstakes.
If the Mets aren't willing to surrender a draft pick to acquire any other free agent help, that will significantly reduce their list of targets — particularly in the outfield. Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Hunter Pence and Curtis Granderson all seem likely to obtain qualifying offers from their respective clubs. Carlos Beltran and Nelson Cruz could also receive qualifying offers.
The Mets currently project to pick 12th in the 2014 draft, which would leave their first-round selection unprotected. The results of this weekend's series could net them a Top 10 selection, but GM Sandy Alderson prefers winning games to ending up with a protected pick.