The New York Daily News’ Sam Borden on Boston and New York coveting the same free agents.

GMs Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein are scheduled to meet with the ace righthander’s agent within the next day or two in what could be the beginning of another heated bidding war between the rivals. Starting pitching is the top priority for both teams this winter, and Pavano – who was 18-8 last season and is a Cy Young front-runner – looms as one of the biggest pearls in a relatively shallow free agent pitching pool.

In what could be another particularly intriguing twist, sources said the Red Sox also might target Jon Lieber, who became a free agent after the Yanks declined his $8 million option last week.

Cashman and Epstein were among the baseball executives who gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here yesterday in preparation for the GM meetings, which start today and run through Friday. Although there aren’t expected to be any blockbuster signings or trades this early in the offseason, this week generally serves as a jumping off point for a team’s winter plan.

“We’re crawling right now, before we walk,” Cashman said. “Hopefully, we’ll be running soon.”

Pavano was born in Connecticut and Shapiro said he is excited about the possibility of playing for either the Yanks or Red Sox, though the 28-year-old is far from the only target for either team. The Sox have to figure out what they’re doing with free agents Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, and Lieber could fit in as a solid replacement for either one.

Several executives expressed surprise that the Yanks would not pick up Lieber’s option, since he was one of their most productive pitchers in the final months of the season, but Cashman said the $8 million price was too high. Lieber has said he would like to return to the Yankees, but also plans to test the market, perhaps setting up yet another showdown between Boston and the Bronx.