The Mets and Scott Boras are engaged in a game of chicken. The powerful agent is saying he has attractive offers elsewhere for Michael Bourn. The Mets are essentially challenging him to prove those offers exist by remaining relatively inflexible in what they are willing to spend on the fleet center fielder.

With pitchers and catchers now less than a week away, we wait to see who blinks in a game that these two sides have participated in before.

After the 2008 season, the Mets offered three years for Derek Lowe, Boras said he could get four, the Mets said prove it and Lowe signed for four years and $60 million with the Braves. The following offseason, the Mets proposed five years for Matt Holliday, Boras said he could get more, the Mets dared him to and Holliday received a seven-year, $120 million pact from the Cardinals.

However, in those previous situations, the Mets were deluding themselves into thinking they were contenders. So when they bypassed Lowe, the Mets still felt they needed a starter and took a destructive next choice, giving Oliver Perez a three-year, $36 million contract. Without Holliday’s righty power, the Mets opted to bestow a calamitous four-year, $66 million pact on Jason Bay.

This time the Mets have no Plan B. For Bourn is a potentially unexpected gift. The Mets did not begin the offseason imagining they could secure a defensive stalwart of his ilk, not when the asking price was publicly believed to be in the five-year, $75 million range. But as the offseason game of musical chairs has played out, Bourn does not have an obvious place to sit now after the Phillies and Braves, in particular, solved their center field needs.

Thus, the Mets can discuss a three-year deal for Bourn and hint at willingness to go to a fourth season — as they have done — and once again dare Boras to prove he has someplace else to go. And, if Boras does, as opposed to what occurred with Perez/Bay, the Mets are not redirecting a large chunk of their bid elsewhere. They either add Bourn to deepen an uninspiring outfield or they don’t, and simply continue with what was the strategy prior to Bourn appearing on their radar — rebuild mostly on the cheap.