From Newsday’s John Heyman :

The Mets have agreed to trade Kris Benson to the Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio and righthanded pitching prospect John Maine, Newsday has learned.

The Benson-for-Julio swap, which was discussed months ago, was revived early in the week and agreed to late Friday night.

The Mets discussed trading Benson for much of the winter. This deal enables them to give Aaron Heilman an opportunity to win the No. 5 slot in the starting rotation. Heilman, whose stock soared last year, had requested a trade if he wasn’t made a starter.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya is said to like Julio’s power arm. Julio, who’s been clocked as high as 99 mph and reminds some of Armando Benitez, saved 83 games from 2002-04. However, his value fell after being hit hard last year after his demotion from closer to set-up man. Julio, who turns 27 in March, was 3-5 with a 5.90 ERA. Overall he is 11-24 with a 4.20 ERA.

Maine, 24, gives the Mets yet another hard thrower. Maine was 2-3 with a 6.30 ERA for the Orioles last year. In 40 innings, he allowed 39 hits while walking 24 and striking out 24.

Heyman and David Lennon had mentioned this deal was probable in a Newsday story earlier this morning. After the efforts to obtain Danys Baez failed, this trade seemed inevitable, but not entirely adviseable. Unless Julio can turn into one of the NL’s premier setup men, the above transaction feels more like a salary dump. Or, perhaps the biggest vote of confidence to date in Aaron Heilman.

No, it still feels like a salary dump. ESPN ‘s Buster Olney suggests shipping out Benson clears the way for the Mets to make a run at Jeff Weaver, but I suspect Dennis Weaver would fare better in the New York spotlight.