Hot Stove: Marlins had a crack at Milledge

The Marlins had their crack at top prospect outfielder Lastings Milledge, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, but simply decided to take Yusmeiro Petit instead.

In an evaluation of the pending Carlos Delgado trade, the newspaper quotes a source familiar with the discussions as saying the Mets were willing to consider trading Milledge – a chip that Mets GM Omar Minaya has been said to be shying away from trading.

The transaction, of course, wound up as the right-handed pitching prospect Petit, first baseman Mike Jacobs plus minor league third baseman Grant Psomas in exchange for the 33-year-old Delgado.

Florida also agreed to pick up $7 million of the three years and $48 million remaining on Delgado's contract.

Milledge is widely considered the Mets' top position player prospect. He batted .302 in 62 games at Class-A St. Lucie before finishing the year hitting .337 in 48 games at Double-A Binghamton, and also played well in the Arizona Fall League and for Team USA in international competition.

The Mets may be moving even closer to holding a second press conference with free agent closer Billy Wagner, less than a week after staging an informal gathering in the old Jets locker room at Shea Stadium.

Wagner made his strongest comments this week indicating that New York, and not Philadelphia, may be where he spends his 2006 campaign.

Wagner told that the Mets "look like the one team that wants to win, so far. They've got a game plan for winning. I was hoping to make a decision when I'm on vacation next week. And right now, only one team has made a legitimate offer. It's like a one-horse race right now."

The Mets are reported to have offered Wagner a deal worth three years and more than $30 million following a tour of New York and Westchester County this week.

The acquisition of Delgado could kill the Mets' pipe-dream of importing Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox – not that the Mets are suddenly financially hamstrung by the move.

Instead, the Mets may struggle working out a complicated deal to circumvent Ramirez's power to veto any deal, especially given the turmoil of Boston's general manager situation.

Still, that didn't stop the Red Sox from landing Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from Florida this week.

If the Mets were indeed to attempt a trade for Ramirez, it would likely clear the top cupboard of the farm system by moving Milledge.

Thoughts of importing Alfonso Soriano to play second base still may be dancing through the Mets' heads.

Though no fewer than three major area newspapers reported Thursday that the Mets would now have no interest in trading for the Texas Rangers' star, The Record of Hackensack, N.J. opined that Minaya indeed would look into pursuing a deal for Soriano, who batted .268 with 36 home runs and 104 RBI for Texas in 2005.

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