In an effort to upgrade their bullpen, the Yankees have discussed a three-way trade with Pittsburgh and Atlanta, the basics of which would send Melky Cabrera to the Braves, bring Pirates closer Mike Gonzalez to the Bronx and give Atlanta first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Pirates.
A person familiar with the situation confirmed the talks. However, Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield is in a position of strength; he doesn't have to trade the lefthanded Gonzalez, who converted 24 of 24 save opportunities in 2006.
Gonzalez, 28, is eligible for arbitration, but the Pirates can afford to keep him. A slew of other clubs, including the Red Sox, have interest in Gonzalez; Boston probably would deploy him as a closer.
But Pittsburgh wants a power hitter and likes LaRoche, who hit 32 homers last season. Atlanta would likely want more than just Cabrera for LaRoche.
As much as the Yankees enjoyed and appreciated Cabrera's development in 2006, they don't view him as untouchable because they have three All-Star-caliber starting outfielders in Bobby Abreu, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. If they could get Gonzalez as the primary setup man for Mariano Rivera, the Yankees could shop Kyle Farnsworth, who experienced an uneven first season in pinstripes and has two years remaining on his contract.
The departure of Cabrera, meanwhile, would create a possible opening for Bernie Williams as the team's fourth outfielder. Williams wants to return to the Yankees for a 17th season, but the Yankees have been anything but optimistic about a Williams return. Asked Friday if he had spoken lately with Williams' agent, Scott Boras, about the ultra-popular veteran, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman responded, "There's nothing to report."
The Yankees continue to work toward solving their situation at first base, with free agent Doug Mientkiewicz a good possibility to sign and platoon with either Josh Phelps or Andy Phillips.