MILWAUKEE -- Talks between the Brewers and Yankees went quiet on Friday, perhaps because New York officials were capping a busy week by finalizing a deal with free-agent starter A.J. Burnett.
On Thursday, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin felt there was "a strong possibility it could still happen," referring to a proposed swap of center fielders between the teams that would give the Yankees a run-producer and one of the league's best defenders in Mike Cameron and the Brewers a much-needed lefty bat and some payroll flexibility in Melky Cabrera.
Melvin had expected to revisit the matter on Friday, but by the afternoon, that had not yet happened. Melvin, working from his home office after a week of little sleep in Las Vegas, said that he sent an e-mail to Yankees counterpart Brian Cashman but that the men had not spoken on the telephone.
"I guess it might not happen," Melvin said. "Maybe he's involved with other free agents. You never know. I'm sure we will talk at some point."
Minutes after that conversation, the reason for the delay became clear, as multiple organizations began reporting that New York and Burnett had come to terms on a five-year mega-contract.
It remains to be seen whether Cashman's next step is to continue to focus on pitching or revisit the Cameron talks. In addition to CC Sabathia and Burnett, the Yankees have engaged on some level with Andy Pettitte, Derek Lowe and Ben Sheets.
Talks about a Cameron-for-Cabrera swap began in November and were rekindled this week. At some point in the past few days, the Yankees asked the Brewers to pick up a significant part of Cameron's $10 million salary for 2009, a proposal that Milwaukee officials viewed as bold after New York outbid them to ink Sabathia to the richest pitching contract in history. Melvin said that the financial issues had been cleared by midday Thursday, though it remained unclear whether other players were involved in the proposed deal, making it more complicated to complete.
Talks were put on hold on Thursday morning while Cashman left Las Vegas. Melvin followed in the evening. It was not until Friday morning that Melvin read reports that Cashman had actually traveled to Texas to meet with Pettitte.
The Brewers were thrilled with their signing of Cameron last season, when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 70 runs despite missing 25 games on a drug suspension. But even though Cabrera had a poor year in 2008 (.249 batting average, .301 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 37 RBIs), Milwaukee likes him because he is a switch-hitter and because he is a 24-year-old just entering his arbitration seasons and could be under club control for three more years.
Cameron turns 36 in January and is a free agent again after 2009.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.