Mets, Brewers Swap Veterans

The Deal
The Brewers traded catcher Johnny Estrada to the Mets for righthander Guillermo Mota, in a trade ridding both clubs of players for whom they ran out of patience. Estrada and Mota would each join their fourth team in four years if they make the 2008 Opening Day roster.
The Big Leaguers
Mota, 33, signed as a third baseman with the Mets out of the Dominican Republic in 1990, but after taking him in the 1996 minor league Rule 5 draft, the Expos converted him to the mound. With easy mid-90s velocity and a killer changeup, Mota rose to prominence with the Dodgers in 2003, striking out 99 batters in 105 relief innings. Los Angeles traded him the Marlins in July 2004, who traded him to the Red Sox in November 2005, who traded him to the Indians in January 2006. Mota was terrible for the Indians, posting a 6.21 ERA in 38 innings, before they pawned him off on the Mets in August 2006. He pitched 18 sterling innings for New York that September, after which it was revealed that he had failed a test for performance-enhancing drugs and was to miss the first 50 games of 2007. Undeterred, the Mets signed him for two years and $5 million. Though it’s straight, Mota’s fastball still reaches the mid-90s, but he falls in love with his changeup and too often refuses to challenge hitters. He went 2-2, 5.76 with 47-18 K-BB and eight home runs allowed in 59 innings in 2007. For his career, Mota has gone 28-29, 3.91 with seven saves and 468-219 K-BB in 579 innings.

Estrada, 31, struggled through a .278/.296/.403 campaign in his first and only season in Milwaukee after being acquired from Arizona for lefthander Doug Davis in November 2006. More than his on-field performance, though, Estrada sealed his fate by nearly coming to blows with Brewers manager New Yost in an August game against the Mets. Taken by the Phillies in the 17th round of the 1997 draft from California’s JC of the Sequoias and traded to the Braves for Kevin Millwood in December 2002, Estrada enjoyed his finest season in 2004 at age 28, hitting .314/.378/.450 for the Braves. Not renowned for his receiving or throwing prowess, Estrada gunned down an NL-worst 13 percent of opposing basestealers in 2007. For his career, he’s thrown them out at a 24 percent rate. A switch-hitter, Estrada has batted .283/.328/.412 from the left side for his career, which is significantly better than what he’s managed as a righthanded batter. Estrada, who is arbitration-eligible this offseason, has batted .280/.320/.406 with 42 home runs in 2,026 big league at-bats.

The Prospects
No prospects were involved in this trade.
Quick Take
Looking to acquire catching options to share time with or back up Ramon Castro, the Mets moved quickly to snag Estrada after their reported three-year, $14 million deal with free agent Yorvit Torrealba collapsed. Faced with possibility of losing Scott Linebrink and Francisco Cordero to free agency, the Brewers coveted Mota as an insurance policy.

" Trade Central 2007