….and it isn’t to the Mets.

From MLB.com’s Ken Gurnck.

With Eric Gagne returning from elbow surgery and eligible for free agency after 2006, the Dodgers on Saturday reinforced their bullpen for the near-term (and maybe longer) by acquiring All-Star closer Danys Baez, All-Star middle reliever Lance Carter plus cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for young pitchers Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany.

Baez (above) is under contract for 2006 with a $4 million salary and is eligible for free agency after the 2006 season. The Dodgers are paying Gagne $10 million this year and the club has a 2007 option for $12 million, but Gagne can void the option, receive a buyout of $250,000 ($650,000 if he finishes 50 games this year) and also declare free agency.

When general manager Ned Colletti traded setup man Duaner Sanchez to the Mets last week in the Jae Seo deal, it left the bullpen filled with inexperienced arms to support Gagne. Colletti indicated that the acquisition of Baez amounts to an upgrade from Sanchez and is not insurance against losing Gagne after the season.

He said Gagne, who underwent elbow surgery June 24, is healthy and will be ready for the start of Spring Training, “as far as I know,” and Colletti said he would be “shocked” if either Baez or Gagne were traded before the season started.

All of that said, acquiring Baez is in fact, some insurance against Gagne’s departure, hurting himself during the WBC or being hit by a bus.

Writes Dodger Thoughts’ Jon Wiseman,

Sentimentally, this isn’t a pleasant trade to hear about. Jackson was the Adrian Beltre of this micro-generation, a struggling Dodger prodigy still young enough to turn things around and nice enough to root for. Tiffany, a Southern Californian, was a promising Dodger draftee as well. This isn’t going to go down in history or even in Sunday’s papers as trading Paul Lo Duca, but it shows that Dodger general manager Ned Colletti isn’t going to be a bleeding heart for the Los Angeles farm system.

Objectively, the trade isn’t hard to understand, but it may be hard to support. It is safe to say that Baez is an above-average reliever – more consistent than and superior to the recently departed Duaner Sanchez, albeit two years older. Carter is being touted as a former All-Star, which I have to admit was news to me – and frankly, borders on intellectually dishonest. He was a default choice for the Devil Rays in 2003 thanks to nothing more than 15 saves, 30 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings, and a 4.05 ERA in the first half of that season. Carter is 31 with 122 career strikeouts – the kind of guy you take a waiver flyer on and hope for the best, like Giovanni Carrara. Mike Sharperson, R.I.P, was a truer All-Star than Carter.

The above trade comes on the heels of right-handed reliever Shinji Mori, most recently of the Seibu Lions, signing a two-year deal with Tampa Bay on Thursday.