Scott Boras says clients Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales still willing to wait for the right deal

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With about two weeks to go until the start of the regular season, shortstop Stephen Drew and first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales still remain unemployed. Both players rejected $14.1 million qualifying offers from the Red Sox and Mariners, respectively, hoping to sign big, multi-year contracts, but it never happened. Meanwhile, players like Nelson Cruz and Ervin Santana, who also rejected qualifying offers, settled for one-year deals to find a home and get into shape before the start of the regular season.

Boras says his two clients, who continue to work out in Florida, will wait for the right deal, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Both could even wait as long as after the draft, when the draft pick compensation attached to them would disappear, making them more attractive to prospective teams and giving them more leverage in negotiations.

Boras criticized the qualifying offer system, even going so far as to call it “jail”.

“The system they’ve been dealt has basically prevented them from free agency,” Boras said. “They want to make sure about their next step, whatever that will be. It means either signing a long-term contract now — and we’re still taking offers on those — or a number of other prospects that could occur after the season starts or in June, after the draft happens.

“Like any players, they want to play baseball. But they’re also looking at the long-term aspect of their careers. This system has placed them not in free agency, but it’s placed them in a jail.”

The Mets have been the team most frequently linked to Drew, as they will otherwise go into the regular season with Ruben Tejada as their everyday shortstop. As Dan Martin of the New York Post reports, however, Drew is still seeking a multi-year deal and the Mets aren’t interested in committing to him beyond one year. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Mariners are still pursuing Morales.

Mets sign Jose Bautista to a major league deal

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Update (5:55 PM ET): It’s official. The Mets have optioned Phillip Evans to Triple-A Las Vegas to make room for Bautista on the 25-man roster. Bautista will be available for Tuesday’s game against the Marlins.

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SNY’s Andy Martino reports that the Mets are close to a deal with free agent Jose Bautista. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the Mets were rumored to be interested in him on Monday, a day after the Braves released him.

Bautista, 37, struggled to a .593 OPS in 40 plate appearances with the Braves. He’s coming off of his worst season as a regular, as he hit .203 in 157 games last year with the Blue Jays.

Bautista mostly played in the outfield for the Jays, but played third base for the Braves. The Mets need depth at both third base and in the outfield due to injuries to Todd Frazier, Yoenis Cespedes, and Juan Lagares.

It will be interesting to see who loses their roster spot to accomodate Bautista. I suggested earlier it should be Jose Reyes.