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DELGADO THE NEXT STEP?

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According to Mets.com, the Cameron trade might just be a salary dump to clear space for the Mets to trade for Carlos Delgado. Delgado will make $48 million over the next three seasons (plus a bit more to make up for the state income tax disparity between Florida and New York), and had a terrific year with the Marlins.

If tests show Mike Cameron has no lingering vision problems resulting from that sickening outfield collision he had with Carlos Beltran in August, the Mets will trade him to Padres by the week's end and, it appears, then pursue a trade for Marlins left-handed slugger Carlos Delgado.

Those developments came to light Wednesday after word of a Mets deal with the Padres -- Cameron for versatile right-handed hitter Xavier Nady -- spread throughout the game. One person familiar with the Mets' plans confirmed the trade and characterized it as conditional, noting the need for Cameron to have his vision tested. The person also made a point of saying Nady would play right field.

Another person familiar with the club's strategy said the Mets intend to use Nady primarily in right -- thought by the Padres to be his best position -- and then pursue a deal with the Marlins for Delgado to add the offensive firepower they lacked last season, at first base.

The presence of Nady appears to be something of a safeguard for the Mets because he can also play first base. If they are unable to acquire Delgado, the Mets can use Nady at first base, platoon him with left-handed-hitting Mike Jacobs and then try to make right field the position that will provide the added offense.

If the Mets were to assume all of Delgado's contract, the talent going back to Florida would be minimal -- maybe Nady and someone like Brian Bannister. That would essentially make the final deal, when all was said and done, Mike Cameron for Carlos Delgado, which sounds like an awful good trade to me.