While Tom Glavine’s ever-talkative agent tells the New York Times’ Murray Chass that his client might only be a day away from choosing between the Mets and Braves, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff claims the Amazins have the inside track on another highly coveted lefty.

The Mets, Cubs and Rangers are considered the primary suitors for Zito, the free-agent lefthander, and friends of Zito believe the 28-year-old would greatly prefer to pitch in New York over Chicago or Arlington, Texas. The Cubs also have held discussions with Jason Schmidt, the other elite free-agent starting pitcher, but Schmidt apparently doesn’t want to pitch in New York.

Zito and his agent, Scott Boras, met with the Rangers in Texas Thursday, as first reported by mlb.com.

With the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels all displaying zero to little interest in Zito, the pitcher’s options appear limited, for now, if he is intent on pitching in a big market on one of the country’s coasts.

Though the New York Sun’s Tim Marchman admits “there may be something duller than the annual Manny Ramirez trade rumors: a policy paper on the proper way to index cost of living allowances to inflation, the unpublished chapters of the new Dave Eggers novel, or outtakes from the critically acclaimed new Joanna Newsom record, which features a harpist declaiming neo-transcendentalist verses about unicorns and such,” he’s also quick to stress that Manny’s contract is no longer so exorbitant he cannot be moved.

As rumor has it, the Sox, if they trade Ramirez, will end up paying to injuryprone outfielder J.D. Drew and shortstop Julio Lugo what it would have paid him, a player who’s more or less in the Jose Valentin class of ballplayer. On its face, this is a mistake. In baseball, two nickels don’t make a dime, and Drew and Lugo together will almost certainly be less valuable over the next two years than Ramirez and a random shortstop. In the bigger picture, though, it makes complete sense. Unlike in the past, if they trade Ramirez, the Sox can now expect to obtain complete relief from future salary obligations, and can expect blue chip prospects as well. The latter will be the key to any deal. Given the way Ramirez’s value has changed relative to the market, the Sox have no really compelling reason to move him, so if they do, it will be for something of real value.

The Red Sox were, for many years, trying to get rid of Manny Ramirez because they were in a position of weakness, stuck with a significantly overpaid player they didn’t love. If they deal him now, it will be from a position of strength. By definition, baseball is a zero-sum game, and so increased Red Sox strength comes at the cost of increased weakness for their rivals. The very fact that there are any serious bidders for Ramirez means the Yankees’ position has eroded as salaries have exploded this fall. That’s how it goes when the game is a business.