From Lee Jenkins in Wednesday’s New York Times :

On the opening day of his first general managers meeting as the man in charge of the Mets, Omar Minaya moved in a direction the Mets have long been avoiding.

A baseball executive at the meeting said Minaya met with Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Paul DePodesta on Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and had preliminary conversations about a trade that would send Mike Piazza to the Dodgers for Shawn Green (above).

Minaya, aiming for a splashy entrance to the New York sports scene, has now stuck a toe in deep water. Piazza has played seven seasons for the Mets, is the career home run leader among catchers and is one of the most recognizable players in franchise history.

The Mets have stressed that they want Piazza to finish his career with them and go into the Hall of Fame as a Met. Minaya insisted Monday that he was not shopping Piazza, but he did say that he would listen to offers for anyone. Minaya said Tuesday that he talked to four teams, and although he would not reveal the nature of those discussions, he did acknowledge that one of those teams was the Dodgers.

“I’m just setting the groundwork,” he said. “I’m getting an idea of what clubs have interest in your players. There is interest, but I want to explore how much.”

If the Mets and the Dodgers come to terms on a Piazza-Green trade, they will essentially be swapping problems to fill vacant positions. Piazza and Green were considered among the best power hitters in baseball, but each has tailed off in the last two seasons, in part because of injuries and, at least in the case of Piazza, age.

They each batted .266 last season while trying to become first basemen. Green, who turns 32 on Wednesday, was switching positions from right field; Piazza, 36, was moving from catcher.

Their contracts also have similarities. They each have one year left on their current deals and are due approximately $16 million for the coming season. The Dodgers, among the best defensive teams in baseball, are searching for a catcher. The Mets, desperate for a first baseman and a corner outfielder, could put Green at either spot. As a bonus, he bats left-handed, which would break up a Mets lineup crowded with right-handed hitters.

Jenkins, of course, does mention that both players could veto such a deal and that

a) Green Is Jewish (many Jews live and work in the New York area)
b) Piazza Is Heterosexual (many Heterosexuals live and work in Southern California) and
c) Dream Theatre have a new DVD/CD box set, out now!

Unasked and unanswered is the question of whether or not the Dodgers would be willing to absorb the salary and moving expenses of Eddie Trunk.

Check out this quote from agent Scott Boras, courtesy of the Associated Press.

“Icon players have proven to be great investments for their businesses,” said Boras, who previously negotiated megapacts for Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Brown.

Only a few teams might be willing to spend the kind of money Boras’ guys want. Of course, the New York Yankees are at the top of that list, despite any rumblings that they’re worried about a $200 million budget.

“This is my 24th year of doing this, and the Yankees’ payroll has been ‘dangerously high’ 24 of 24,” Boras said. “They’ve been the Goliath of the game, and I don’t expect their position to change.”

Which would put them in perfect position to get Beltran, a five-tool center fielder. The Yankees already have Bernie Williams playing that position — he’s another Boras client.

Not to worry, the agent said.

“That’s something between Carlos and Bernie,” Boras said. “That’s something they’ve talked about.”

Their conversation took place during the season, Boras said, and he did not reveal the details or whether that meant the Yankees were the front-runners to sign Beltran.

Yes, icons like Shawn Green and Mike Piazza were such a great investment for their respective clubs, the only way they can be traded is for someone else with an equally cumbersome contract. Alex Rodriguez was such a fine investment for Tom Hicks, the Rangers’ owner is paying a hefty chunk of his salary while he minces and slaps for the Yankees. Kevin Brown might’ve been the greatest investment of all time — his value to the Dodgers grew so much over the years that Los Angeles willingly took on Jeff Weaver rather than continue paying Mr. Moody the big bucks.