The Mets are getting serious about bringing Dale Murphy to New York.

Mets vice president Joe McIlvaine and Atlanta general manager Bobby Cox met for about 30 minutes on Sunday in what was described as "preliminary discussions."The Braves want third baseman Howard Johnson, center fielder Len Dykstra and rookie left-hander Dave West.

"I tried to get him (Murphy) three years ago," Mets general manager Frank Cashen said Sunday. "We're just in the preliminary stages but some names have been mentioned."

Cashen was also approached by New York Yankees manager Dallas Green Sunday to see if there was any possiblity of the two New York teams swinging another deal.

Green asked Cashen about Johnson's status as the Mets' third baseman.

At last year's meetings, the Mets traded shortstop Rafael Santana and pitcher Victor Garcia to the Yankees for outfielder Darren Reed, catcher Phil Lombardi and pitcher Steve Frey.

"Santana worked out well for them," Green said. "He had some injuries but he was a team player."

Green said he would like to solidify the Yankees' infield and is also interested in Montreal third baseman Tim Wallach.

Johnson, a switch-hitter who can play third base and shortstop, hit 24 homers last season with 68 RBI. In 1987, Johnson hit 36 homers with 99 RBI.

The Mets, however, would like to make Gregg Jefferies their regular third baseman and Johnson's name keeps coming up in trade rumors.

Murphy, who will be 33 next season, hit .226 last season with 24 homers and 77 RBI. The risk in acquiring Murphy is his age and a $2 million contract.