LAS VEGAS -- Before leaving the Winter Meetings, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said there is a "strong possibility" that he will swap center fielders with the Yankees, perhaps as early as Friday.
The framework for the deal was set six weeks ago at the General Managers Meetings in California: The Yankees would upgrade with Gold Glove-winner Mike Cameron, who turns 36 next month and is a free agent again after the 2009 season, and the Brewers would get an affordable left-handed bat in 24-year-old switch-hitter Melky Cabrera, who is just entering his arbitration years.
Melvin wouldn't say whether the deal might be expanded to include other players, but it appears that the financial hurdles have been resolved. The Brewers, who lost the CC Sabathia sweepstakes to the Yankees, rebuffed New York's request to pick up part of Cameron's $10 million salary, and after a chat between Melvin and Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Thursday, while Cashman was going through airport security, Melvin said the financial hold-up was, "not a problem now."
The deal could change over the next 24 hours to include more players, perhaps some Yankees pitching. Travel plans kept the trade from moving forward on Thursday; Cashman flew to Texas to meet with free-agent southpaw Andy Pettitte.
Melvin planned to touch base again Friday. Moving Cameron's salary could free the Brewers to be more active in free agency, and Melvin said Thursday that he is engaged with a tier of veteran pitchers including Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer, John Smoltz and Randy Wolf, though Wolf's asking price may still be too high. It's also possible that Ben Sheets could come back to the Brewers if he does not find a suitable deal elsewhere.
Cabrera is coming off a poor year that included a demotion to the Yankees' Triple-A club, and he finished the year hitting .249 with a .301 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 37 RBIs.
Cameron missed the first month of Milwaukee's season because of a suspension, but contributed 25 home runs, 70 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. He also led the Brewers with 142 strikeouts while hitting .243.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.