Reports: Mets, Dodgers discuss Piazza for Green

The Mets have discussed the framework of a deal that would end Mike Piazza's seven-year stay in New York, sending him back to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Shawn Green, <I>The New York Times</I> and <I>Los Angeles Times</I> reported.

Citing an executive who was present at the baseball general managers' meetings in Key Biscayne, Fla., both newspapers reported that Mets general manager Omar Minaya and Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta at least discussed the preliminary setup for a monster move that would change the landscape of both clubs.

"In our discussion with the Mets, we threw out a handful of things and brainstormed about how we can help each other out," DePodesta told the Los Angeles Times. "No definite proposal was made. We agreed to continue to keep an open mind."

Piazza obviously is the Mets' most widely recognized star and a foundation of the organization, but the team's back-to-back playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000 are a distant memory. The last couple of seasons have not been kind to either Piazza or the team.

The 35-year-old catcher has suffered lengthy injuries in each of the last two years, including a torn groin that sidelined him for all but 68 games in 2003 and a sprained wrist that knocked him out of action this past season.

He was also embarrassed in a clumsy transition to first base that was leaked to the media in 2003 by former manager Art Howe before Piazza could be apprised of the situation.

Like many of the Mets, Piazza found himself disheartened both by his injuries and by the club's losing ways of the last few seasons. However, Piazza passed a milestone in 2004 which was meaningful to him, becoming the career leader in home runs for a catcher when he hit his 352nd on May 5, passing Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk.

Overall, Piazza hit .262 with 20 homers and 52 RBI in 2004. Perhaps most tellingly, he also realized that his time with the Mets may be drawing to a close, yielding to 21-year-old third baseman David Wright as the future leader of the club.

Though Piazza has a no-trade clause, it's likely that he might find a homecoming to Southern California appealing. Originally drafted by the Dodgers, Piazza scored the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year award and grew into one of baseball's biggest stars leading up to his 1998 blockbuster trade to the Florida Marlins.

Green, who until recently was one of the darlings of Los Angeles' sports scene, has seen his numbers decline in a battle with injuries and an ongoing position switch, also to first base. He was briefly mentioned this offseason in hot stove trade talks with the Chicago Cubs for Sammy Sosa.

On the diamond, Green was so uncomfortable with his transition from right field to first base that he briefly abandoned the experiment in spring training, but continued on to hit .266 with 28 homers and 86 RBI as the Dodgers pursued their playoff berth.

Like Piazza, Green is due approximately $16 million on his contract for the 2005 season, the final year of both players' long-term deals. He also has a no-trade clause and would have to approve a deal to the Mets.

The Mets would likely be looking at Green as a right fielder, his natural position, but would consider it a plus if Green would agree to fill in at first base.

Acta says he's on board

According to the New York Daily News, Montreal Expos coach Manny Acta has told baseball sources that he's already accepted the Mets' third base coach position.

In other coaching news, the Mets have secured permission from the Colorado Rockies to interview Sandy Alomar, Sr., who is thought to be Minaya's top choice for a bench coach. The New York Times also reported the Mets will interview minor league manager Arnie Beyeler to become the first-base and outfield coach.

Roberts, Parra cut loose

Relievers Grant Roberts and Jose Parra will begin their search for new organizations, as both were released by the Mets on Tuesday.

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