The Marlins traded All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca to the Mets on Sunday for minor league righthander Gaby Hernandez and another prospect.
The 33-year-old Lo Duca, a native of Brooklyn, has made the National League All-Star team in each of the last three seasons. He is regarded as one of the league's top offensive catchers as well as an excellent handler of pitching staffs and a clubhouse leader.
Despite being hampered by nagging injuries for most of last season, Lo Duca still batted .283 with six homers and 57 RBI in his first full campaign with the Marlins. He was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2004 trading deadline in a swap that sent righthander Brad Penny and first baseman Hee-Seop Choi to the West Coast.
The primary injury that Lo Duca dealt with last season was a right hamstring strain that hampered him in September, when he hit just .191 (13-for-68) in 20 games.
With the reported trade, Lo Duca becomes the latest Marlin to be shipped out of town by general manager Larry Beinfest in an attempt to significantly reduce payroll.
"I figured when they traded Josh Beckett, that this might happen," Lo Duca told Floridamarlins.com on Sunday.
With the Winter Meetings set to begin Monday in Dallas, center fielder Juan Pierre and lefthanded reliever Ron Villone are likely the next candidates to be shipped out of South Florida.
While Florida continues to move key players, the team also is looking to relocate the entire operation. The Marlins have received permission from Major League Baseball to begin looking for another home after owner Jeffrey Loria was unable to reach a deal for a new stadium in South Florida.
"I know it's hurting Mr. Loria," Lo Duca said. "He wants to win so badly, but with no stadium, he is doing what he has to do."
The 19-year-old Hernandez, a native of Miami, was considered one of the Mets' top pitching prospects. The 6-3, 215-pounder went 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA for low Class A Hagerstown in the South Atlantic League this past season. He finished the campaign at Class A St. Lucie, where he went 2-5 with a 5.74 ERA.