The Toronto Sun’s Mike “Staring At The Rude Boys” Rutsey claims there’s a dearth of interest in the pricey Carlos Delgado.

Is there a soft market for Blue Jays free agent Carlos Delgado? Yes is the answer from three different baseball executives.

The Baltimore Orioles are in the hunt, but the whispers say if they can land a right-handed bat, an outfielder, say Magglio Ordonez, then Delgado gets pushed to the back burner.

The Seattle Mariners also are interested. But they are also looking at Richie Sexson. If they land Sexson, then adios Delgado.

It could leave the Jays in the driver’s seat. And on the cheap.

Back in big-marketville, the NY Post’s Mark Hale claims the Mets and Yankees are battling for the services of Carlos Beltran.

Already there are signs of a potential Mets-Yankees bidding war involving the biggest free agent of all.

The Mets had a summit with superagent Scott Boras yesterday during which, the Post has learned, they expressed their interest in two of his superb free agents ” rightfielder Magglio Ordonez and more importantly, centerfielder Carlos Beltran (above).

If the Mets get serious about Beltran, it could prompt a fascinating crosstown showdown between the Mets and Yankees for one of the game’s best all-around players.

The Yankees, long rumored to be Beltran’s eventual destination, have not met with Boras yet, and GM Brian Cashman indicated he doesn’t expect to be making any offers today. But whenever the Yankees jump into the Beltran sweepstakes, they’ll be the favorites to land him for a simple gluttonous reason ” they can offer the most money. Beltran, after all, could command a contract in excess of $100 million.

Still, the Mets are at least interested in getting into the Beltran mix.

The Mets were also waiting for a proposal from free agent Kris Benson’s agent, Gregg Clifton, yesterday, but no deal is imminent. Al Leiter has filed for free agency provisionally, but the Mets have until Monday to decide if they will exercise their $10 million team option, which they assuredly won’t. Leiter cannot speak to other teams until Monday or the Mets decline the option ” whatever comes first.

If the Mets don’t get a deal done, Leiter could perhaps seek employment in The Bronx. It’s another intriguing storyline to watch as the bidding opens today. Free agency is here, and Beltran is available. Let the madness begin.