The Mets are still very motivated to sign free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn, according to people familiar with the team’s thinking — but remain adamant about keeping their first-round draft choice.

So how could this actually happen?

It turns out that the decision about the draft pick would be in hands of an independent arbitrator, not the commissioner’s office. Here is how the process could work:

The players association could file a grievance on behalf of Bourn, a Type A free agent, at any time before or after he signs a contract.

The union could then argue that since the Mets were the 10th-worst team in baseball in 2012, they should have a protected pick, and be able to sign Bourn without losing it.

As it stands, the Mets have the unprotected 11th pick, because the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to sign their top draft choice last year, and received a top-10 pick this year as compensation. That pushed the Mets from 10th to 11th.

In a hearing, Major League Baseball could argue that the CBA says nothing about the 10 worst teams deserving a protected pick, no matter how the Mets wish to interpret it.

MLB could also argue that it is unfair to all other teams to allow one club to re-interpret the rules in the middle of the offseason. What if, that reasoning goes, another team emerges to say that it would have considered Bourn under the circumstances that the Mets are requesting?

If those cases are made, an arbitrator would rule on the issue. According to sources, this process has not yet been initiated by Bourn or the Mets, although the team’s interest in the outfielder is sincere.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/mets-motivated-sign-bourn-first-round-draft-pick-article-1.1257452#ixzz2KDYtsBwo