From tomorrow’s The NY Times, Lee Jenkins & Tyler Kepner on the Hot Stove action surrounding New York’s clubs.

The Mets and the Cubs are both interested in a swap that would send Cliff Floyd to Chicago for Sosa, but there is a serious financial hang-up that could easily block the deal. The Cubs want the Mets to pay most of Sosa’s $17 million contract, and the Mets want the Cubs to assume a large portion of his salary. Because so many Chicago fans have turned on Sosa, and so few teams are interested in him, the Mets have the luxury of leverage and can wait for the price to drop.

While Sosa’s stock has plummeted, the price for first basemen may be on the rise. Carlos Delgado of the Toronto Blue Jays and Richie Sexson of the Arizona Diamondbacks are the only marquee first basemen on the free-agent market, and according to one executive in baseball, the Seattle Mariners are plotting a way to snag both players. The Mariners would put one at first base and use the other as the designated hitter, and the Mets would have to scramble for a solution.

Finding a first baseman will be much more difficult than luring a starter to replace Leiter. The Mets are exploring the possibility of signing one of the top two free-agent pitchers, Pedro Martínez of the Red Sox or Carl Pavano of the Marlins, but they are considered long shots because the Yankees and the Red Sox are also interested in them. The Mets would probably have a better chance with Derek Lowe of Boston or Kevin Millwood of Philadelphia, who some in the organization think would thrive under the pitching coach Rick Peterson.

Right now, many of the Yankees’ moves depend on other parties. They are waiting for Leiter to reciprocate their interest and hoping the Diamondbacks open trade talks for starting pitcher Randy Johnson. So far, the Yankees’ focus has been on retaining their players: starting pitcher Jon Lieber, second baseman Miguel Cairo and the backup catcher John Flaherty. The Yankees have had disjointed talks with starting pitcher Orlando Hernández, who has been unclear about whether he wants to negotiate directly or through an agent.

Cashman is flying to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and will not return until Tuesday night. “That should give you an idea of how close things are, which is not very,” he said.

You can count ESPN’s Peter Gammons amongst those pouring cold water on a potential Randy Johnson for Javier Vazquez trade.

What makes no sense is Arizona taking on Vazquez. Wink, wink  we know the Yankees would take on some of the money, but Vazquez has $25M guaranteed in 2006 and 2007. Now, the Diamondbacks likely will be worse than any of Vazquez’s Expos teams, so he’ll demand a trade at the end of the ’05 season. If he has a good year, Arizona will be embarrassed. If he has a bad year, he will be virtually untradable at that price. Then there’s the matter of Diamondbacks owner Jeff Moorad being the agent Vazquez fired.