Yankees hoping to shore up defense

Yanks want to shore up defense

The New York Yankees were at the center of trade talk Wednesday as the Bronx Bombers' pursuit of more offense dominated the East Coast headlines.

According to multiple media outlets, the Yankees were discussing a trade that would send outfielder Gary Sheffield across town to the Mets in exchange for outfielder Mike Cameron and infielder Miguel Cairo.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman reported Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Mets GM Omar Minaya have had preliminary talks regarding a trade involving Sheffield and Cameron.

The Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch, citing a Major League executive who'd been briefed on the talks, reported the deal was tentative and that the Mets were waiting for the Yankees to make a formal offer.

If the deal goes through, Sheffield would join Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd in a Met outfield that would have one of the more formidable middle of the orders in the league just as the team begins a 10-game stretch against National League East Division rivals Philadelphia, Florida and Washington.

According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, the Yankees are also eyeing outfielder Juan Encarnacion of the Marlins.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, citing a National League source, reported the Yankees have inquired about Encarnacion and that that interest could intensify if they can't pry Mark Kotsay, considered their top target, from the Oakland Athletics.

The A's, however, have not indicated Kotsay is even available at this point. Like most teams, Oakland is still in the process of deciding whether to buy or sell or stand pat.

According to the paper, the Marlins would likely receive reliever Paul Quantrill from the Yankees in exchange for Encarnacion with the Yankees likely picking up all or most of the remaining $1.57 million of Quantrill's 2005 salary, plus the $400,000 buyout of a 2006 club option they have already declined.

Teams can trade without having to go through the waiver process until 4 p.m. ET on July 31.

Elsewhere on the trade front:

Cubs, Rockies: Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post reported the Cubs are interested in Colorado center fielder Preston Wilson. The Rockies have shopped Wilson, a free agent at season's end, but the Cubs have shown the most interest, while also focusing on Oakland's Mark Kotsay.

According to The Post, the Rockies are interested in reliever Todd Wellemeyer and prospects, including shortstop Ronny Cedeno along with $4 million in salary considerations. Wilson is owed $6.3 million.

"If I have a chance to go win, I would do what it takes to help the team(s) to make that happen," Wilson told The Post.

Astros, Mariners, Twins: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported the Mariners inquired about the availability of Houston starter Brandon Backe in exchange for outfielder Randy Winn. The Astros were not interested in Winn, a 31-year-old with little power who is making $3.75 million this year with a team option of $5 million or a $3.75 million buyout for 2006.

Meanwhile second baseman Bret Boone's name continues to be bandied about the rumor mill with San Diego and Minnesota most often mentioned as potential suitors.

The Twins are looking for a third baseman and have scouted Cincinnati's Joe Randa and San Francisco's Edgardo Alfonzo and if they acquire one, would likely move Michael Cuddyer from third to second base. If they can't deal for help at third, the Twins could go after a second baseman like Boone.

Orioles: The Washington Post, citing sources, reported Marlins pitcher A.J. Burnett is on the market with the Orioles, one of the teams interested in the right-hander. The Post reported the Boston Red Sox have also asked about the right-hander.

Jim Molony is a writer for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.