With free agent P Derek Lowe reportedly looking for a 5 year pack worth more than $60 million, the New York Daily News’ John Harper predicts the Mets “don’t expect to outbid either the Yankees or Red Sox” and “may have to lower their sights for a starter”.

The Mets think Boras will price Oliver Perez too high as well, so they are looking at other options. They have interest in Jon Garland, the free-agent righthander who went 14-8 for the Angels despite a 4.90 ERA, and they would consider trading for Javier Vazquez, who went 12-16 with a 4.67ERA for the White Sox.

One potentially intriguing trade possibility is the Rays’ Edwin Jackson, the 25-year-old righthander with the big fastball and plenty of potential. Lack of command kept him from living up to early raves, but he showed signs of blossoming in 2008, going 14-11 with a 4.42 ERA. With David Price on the horizon, the Rays have a surplus of starting pitching.

One Rays person said Tampa has interest in Aaron Heilman – “as a reliever, not a starter” – but said the Rays value Jackson’s potential as worth more than that.

“It would have to be more,” the person said. “I know that some of our guys think Jackson started to turn the corner this year, and they think he could still be something special.”

It’s not pitching the Rays need anyway. They’re looking for a right fielder, so if the Mets really want Jackson, and perhaps a prospect too, they could probably do it by offering Ryan Church, whose lefthanded bat they could replace with free agent Raul Ibañez.

While we’re on the subject of lowering their sights, a report in the Poughkeepsie Journal, sans byline, tips the Mets to pursue Trevor Hoffman rather than Francisco Rodriguez or Bobby Jenks.

The Mets™ discussions seem to be leading them away from the top candidates and instead toward the possibility of signing San Diego™s Trevor Hoffman and acquiring a set-up man such as Colorado™s just-acquired Huston Street in a trade.

According to one baseball official, the Mets have been actively discussing possible trades and are leaning toward the likes of Hoffman, who is leaving the Padres at 41 years of age and clearly on the decline.

But he still managed 30 saves last season after four consecutive seasons of 40-plus saves. As the all-time saves leader, there is little doubt that he can handle the pressure of playing in New York.

The belief is that a Hoffman or Kerry Wood can be had for a less-pricy, shorter-term deal than the price tags expected for Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes.

I sort of wish Joe Benigno-Gazingo was on WFAN this morning, if only because I’d have another story ready to roll tomorrow about speaker damage throughout the tri-state once he reached the part about the Mets showing interest in Kerry Wood.