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07/07/2008 1:32 AM ET
Trade involving LaPorta nearing
Top prospect out of Double-A lineup amid Sabathia rumors
Matt LaPorta was leading the Southern League with 20 home runs prior to the trade. (Tony Farlow/MLB.com )

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MILWAUKEE -- Outfielder Matt LaPorta was out of the Double-A Huntsville Stars' lineup on Sunday evening, the strongest indication yet that something was brewing between the Brewers and Indians.

LaPorta, Milwaukee's top prospect, was believed to be the centerpiece of a package that apparently has succeeded in prying away reigning American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland. The Brewers are expected to announce the deal at Miller Park late Monday morning, presumably after Sabathia passes a physical.

In a text message posted on ESPN.com, Sabathia reportedly wrote of the trade away from Cleveland, "I'm good, excited. It's weird leaving these guys."

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin did not return a phone call on Sunday, and while Indians GM Mark Shapiro said the sides had made "some progress," he denied Sunday evening that a trade was in place. That ran contrary to numerous published reports, including a post on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site, citing a Brewers source, that said a deal was done, "contingent on the paperwork being done and medical records exchanged."

Milwaukee's WSSP radio reported that Triple-A Nashville left-hander Zach Jackson would go to Cleveland along with LaPorta, while the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Class A West Virginia right-hander Rob Bryson and one other player also would be included.

The Brewers have had their eyes on pitching since right-hander Yovani Gallardo was lost to a knee injury that likely will sideline him the rest of the season. Sabathia is considered the best arm on the market and would be a left-handed complement to right-handed Brewers ace Ben Sheets. Both pitchers will be free agents after the season, and it is unlikely Milwaukee would be able to re-sign both.

But Melvin nonetheless was poised to part with LaPorta, widely regarded as Milwaukee's top prospect. The Brewers have not made the postseason since 1982, when a late-August trade for future Hall of Famer Don Sutton bolstered the team in its pennant race.

A right-handed hitter who played first base at the University of Florida but converted to the outfield as a pro, LaPorta entered play Sunday hitting .288 with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in 84 games for Huntsville, a club stocked with prospects.

LaPorta, 23, was just named the Brewers' Minor League Player of the Month for June. He hit .381 (40-for-105) for the month with two homers and 24 RBIs in 26 games and was named to the prestigious All-Star Futures Game. He will play first base for the U.S. team and also could be picked for the Olympic Games.

He was aware of the rumors.

"It's kind of flattering to have your name being brought up for one of the best pitchers in the game," LaPorta told the Huntsville Times. "There would be no hard feelings one way or another. This is a business, and I understand that."

Sabathia is 6-8 this season, despite a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts for the Indians.

Key to the Brewers was getting a deal done before Sabathia's scheduled outing Tuesday at Detroit. Instead, he could start for the Brewers on Tuesday against the Rockies and again on Sunday against the Reds in the first-half finale.

Brewers manager Ned Yost would have to shuffle his starting rotation if a trade is completed in time. As of Sunday, left-hander Manny Parra was scheduled to start Tuesday seeking his eighth straight win, followed by Sheets on Wednesday and right-hander Dave Bush on Thursday. Either Bush or Monday starter Seth McClung probably will be removed from the rotation to make room for Sabathia.

Sabathia has made between 13 and 16 second-half starts every season since 2001.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.