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With Torrealba talks dead, Mets get Estrada from Brewers for Mota

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets acquired Johnny Estrada from
Milwaukee for reliever Guillermo Mota on Tuesday, moving quickly to
plug their hole at catcher after talks with Yorvit Torrealba
collapsed.

Estrada batted .278 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs for the Brewers
this year. He is eligible for arbitration this winter and can
become a free agent after the 2008 season.

"Johnny adds depth to our catching situation," Mets general
manager Omar Minaya said. "He's a former All-Star who switch-hits
and has hit over .300 three times in his career."

Mota served a 50-game steroids suspension at the beginning of
the season and finished 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA in 52 appearances.
Often booed at home, the 34-year-old right-hander struck out 47 and
walked 18 in 59 1-3 innings.

"We are getting a quality relief pitcher who can pitch out of
the back of the pen," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said.
"We have been looking for a pitcher who can give us multiple
innings, and last season Mota showed he could do that, pitching 2.0
innings 13 times."

The trade leaves Paul Lo Duca, New York's starting backstop the
past two seasons, looking for a job elsewhere. Last week, the Mets
re-signed Ramon Castro to be their backup catcher again, though he
could get more playing time now than he did behind Lo Duca.

The 31-year-old Estrada had arthroscopic surgery on his left
knee Oct. 4 to repair a torn meniscus. He also had a bone spur
removed from his right elbow. The operations were performed by Dr.
James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.


Estrada threw out only 11 of 84 basestealers (13 percent) in his
lone season with the Brewers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau,
and he also lacks discipline at the plate. He drew just 12 walks
despite getting 442 at-bats, leaving him with a meager .296 on-base
percentage.

Torrealba appeared set to become New York's No. 1 catcher when
he and the Mets reached a preliminary agreement last week on a
$14.4 million, three-year contract that was subject to a physical.

The Mets said Saturday they had ended negotiations with
Torrealba, leading to speculation that a medical exam left them
with concerns about his throwing shoulder. Torrealba, who helped
Colorado reach the World Series this year, missed nearly three
months in 2006 with a strained right shoulder.

"I'm just going to say that we couldn't get a deal done,"
Minaya said Monday.

An All-Star in 2004 with Atlanta, the slow-footed Estrada is a
.280 career hitter with 42 homers and 281 RBIs in 589 games
spanning seven major league seasons. He has spent his entire career
in the National League, also playing for Philadelphia and Arizona.

Estrada made $3.4 million this year. Mota is guaranteed $3.2
million next season, then can become a free agent.

The Mets acquired the 6-foot-6 Mota in August 2006 after he
struggled with Cleveland, but he pitched extremely well down the
stretch to help New York wrap up an NL East title.

News of his positive test for a performance-enhancing substance
surfaced after the season, and Mota said he felt terrible for
making a mistake. Knowing he would be suspended for the first 50
games of 2007, the Mets re-signed Mota to a $5 million, two-year
contract.

Mota is 28-29 with a 3.91 ERA and seven saves in nine major
league seasons with Montreal, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida,
Cleveland and the Mets. Since 2002, he ranks fourth among big
league relievers with 444 1-3 innings pitched.