The New York Times’ Lee Jenskins strikes a cautionary tone regarding the Mets’ courtship of Pedro Martinez.

Martínez could soon receive a contract offer from the Mets that is competitive with the one he has already received from Boston. The notion of leaving the Red Sox for the Mets is just crazy enough for Martínez to consider. Part of his appeal has always been his free-flinging nature, and signing with the Mets would only add to his unpredictable persona.

Martínez and the Mets would make a strange but not inconceivable match. They are desperate for attention and eager to reassert their relevance. Curt Schilling has overshadowed Martínez for the past year, the Yankees have overshadowed the Mets for the past decade and now they are discussing a union of the scorned.

Besides sellout crowds, a supportive clubhouse and another chance at the World Series, the Red Sox have offered Martínez a two-year deal worth $25.5 million, with an easily attainable option year that would bring the package to $38.5 million with $2 million in performance incentives.

To outbid Boston for Martínez, the Mets will probably have to offer him at least a three-year guaranteed contract worth more than $13 million a season with an equally attainable option year.

Omar Minaya wants to make a statement in his first off-season as the Mets’ general manager, but it is risky to give the 33-year-old Martínez a four-year deal, considering his slight physique and the velocity he lost last season.

It will be difficult to match the good will that Boston has built up with Martínez. He is perhaps Boston’s most famous athlete over the past seven years, and even when he was struggling last season, the Red Sox gave him every possible concession. When the Mets had discussions about Martínez, some in the organization were concerned that he would need a separate set of rules.

While playing for Boston, Martínez was allowed to report late to the stadium on days he did not pitch and was coddled after he called the Yankees “my daddy” after a loss in September. In Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, with the Red Sox drubbing the Yankees, Manager Terry Francona allowed Martínez to pitch, presumably because Martínez wanted to participate in the excitement.

Free Agent SS Orlando Cabrera is asking for 4-5 year, a request that the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman doubts the Red Sox will honor.

With shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez expected to be ready for prime time perhaps as early as 2006, the Red Sox do not have an interest in wrapping up any shortstop in a three-, never mind a four- or five-year minimum deal. With free agent catcher Jason Varitek still seeking a five-year deal and the Red Sox offering four, and the club apparently willing to sign Pedro Martinez to three guaranteed years, a long-term deal for Cabrera seems next to impossible to imagine.

     The one way Cabrera could conceivably come back: by accepting an offer of salary arbitration from the Red Sox, who would not mind if the shortstop accepted and cost them $7 million to $8 million for next year. The Sox also would not mind if Cabrera rejected arbitration and signed elsewhere, meaning the club could gain a draft pick next June.

     The Red Sox are expected to pursue a number of veteran options in the shortstop market. Some of the names that have already come up, or are expected to shortly, are Royce Clayton, Jose Valentin and Barry Larkin. The club made a two-year proposal to Omar Vizquel, who instead inked a three-year deal with the Giants