NEW YORK -- The Mets may need Oliver Perez a bit less than they once did -- their acquisitions of Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia have provided them with a measure of rotational depth -- but he nonetheless remains quite prominent on their radar.

To that end, the Mets have kept a contract offer on the table and, according to an SI.com report on Friday evening, may have even raised it. Without citing any sources, the report states that the Mets "are believed to have improved" their original offer, which was for three years and $30 million.

The Mets have made it known that they would like to acquire one additional free-agent starter before Spring Training, and that they value Perez more highly than their second and third choices -- Ben Sheets and Randy Wolf, respectively. They know also that Perez is a more expensive option than either alternative, so they won't have nearly as much competition for his services.

Perez wasn't always the Mets' top choice -- Derek Lowe was, before the Braves outbid them for his services. But Perez became their top priority upon Lowe's signing.

The Mets have three starters -- Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine -- with guaranteed roster spots, and four others to fight for the two remaining spots. If the season began today, free-agent signees Redding and Garcia would battle with rookies Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell for jobs in the rotation.

Should the Mets sign Perez, who originally came to New York in the 2006 trade that sent Xavier Nady to Pittsburgh, it would allow them to guarantee a fourth starting pitcher a roster spot.

Perez finished 10-7 with a 4.22 ERA for the Mets last season, and has produced a 26-20 record over his two and a half seasons with the team.