The Friday Night Rumor Mill–May 26, 2006

The impressive play of Melky Cabrera has eased some of the pressure on the Yankees to make a deal for a starting outfielder, but it hasn’t stopped Brian Cashman from talking to Nationals GM Jim Bowden about making a lower-scale trade for Ryan Church. Although blessed with power, above-average speed, and the versatility to play all three outfield positions, Church has failed to gain the favor of Washington manager Frank Robinson. That explains in part why the Nationals recently demoted Church to the Double-A Harrisburg Senators, bypassing the usual stop with the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs. There’s been some talk of Church coming to the Yankees for Colter Bean, but it will require more than the hefty soft-tossing right-hander to get a deal done…

If Jorge Posada’s hamstring tear becomes a long-term problem, the Yankees will look into the possibility of acquiring a backup catcher. They’ve already grown disenchanted with the hitting and throwing of Kelly Stinnett, who appears to be washed up at the age of 36. One player that will draw the Yankees’ interest is Cincinnati’s Javier Valentin, one of the game’s best backup catchers. The 30-year-old Valentin can be a free agent at season’s end; that status, along with the presence of Jason LaRue and David Ross, may convince the Reds to cut bait with Valentin. If so, they’ll want young pitching (either lefty Sean Henn or righty Matt DeSalvo) in return for the switch-hitting receiver…

While most publicized rumors focused on bigger names like Livan Hernandez, Dontrelle Willis, and Barry Zito, Mets general manager Omar Minaya did some flying below the radar by picking up Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez from the Diamondbacks for Jorge Julio. The addition of the elder statesman right-hander, whose age ranges from 36 to 45 depending on your source, will enable the Mets to part company with both Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez while ensuring Aaron Heilman’s presence in the bullpen through the All-Star break. Minaya made a quick follow-up move by trading for Cincinnati’s Dave "Tiger" Williams, who was surprisingly designated for assignment despite being the wintertime compensation for the popular Sean Casey. Williams will probably start his Mets tenure in the rotation and then move to the bullpen when Brian Bannister returns from the disabled list. Even with El Duque and Williams in tow, the Mets will continue to look at constructing a more major trade that won’t include giving up Lastings Milledge for either Willis, Zito, or Jason Schmidt.

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