The Brewers face strong competition for free-agent center fielder Mike Cameron, perhaps stronger than they even imagined.
The Yankees are showing serious interest in Cameron, major-league sources say, figuring that they could trade center fielder Melky Cabrera even if they do not send him to the Twins for left-hander Johan Santana.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is a supporter of Cameron's; the two were teammates with the Mariners in 2000. Cameron also has recent experience playing in New York; he was with the Mets in '04 and '05.
Cabrera, 23, is part of the Yankees' offer for Santana, but could fit for several teams that are in the market for a young, affordable, switch-hitting center fielder.
Those teams include the Cubs, Reds, Braves, Royals and Pirates. The Yankees likely would seek prospects for Cabrera
, replace him with Cameron in center and keep Johnny Damon in left.
Damon would remain in center for the start of the season while Cameron serves a 25-game suspension for testing positive for a banned stimulant.
Cameron, 35, likely would sign a two-year deal, giving the Yankees time to continue developing their top center-field prospect, Austin Jackson, who split last season between Class A and Class AA.
The Cubs are on the fringe of the Cameron pursuit, and the Twins' interest could grow if they fail to land a center fielder in a trade for Santana. But Cameron is likely to sign with the Yankees or Brewers before the Santana question is resolved.