So, is Miggy-for-Manny DOA, in the wake of Miguel Tejada's declaration to the Baltimore Orioles that he no longer wants to be traded?
Red Sox co-general manager Jed Hoyer had no comment yesterday, but that's what the Red Sox management team intends to find out. It may not take much sleuthing on their part, judging by comments made by Orioles vice president Jim Duquette late yesterday afternoon.
''I would say I don't think there will be a lot of serious talk [with the Sox]," Duquette said. ''I guess we would listen, but it's not a front-burner-type issue anymore. I got my first good night's sleep in a month last night."
Sweet repose came to Duquette after Tejada called him from the Dominican Republic where he is playing for Aguilas Cibaena in the winter league playoffs, and told him he no longer wanted to be dealt. Duquette acknowledged Tejada was still upset that the team, in his view, has not kept up with its rivals in the American League East with its offseason moves, but he said Tejada did not equivocate in rescinding his trade request.
''There was no hesitation at all," he said of Tejada's remarks. ''It was strong. It had almost an apologetic type tone. He didn't apologize, but he said, 'I felt bad about the way it all turned out. That's not what I wanted to do.' "
The Orioles also had been in talks with other clubs regarding Tejada, including the Chicago Cubs, who reportedly were prepared to deal pitcher Mark Prior, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who offered outfielder Bobby Abreu. Published reports had the Phillies proposing that Tejada would play third base alongside shortstop Jimmy Rollins and then learning he was not keen on the idea, but one major league source said last night that the Phillies had spoken with the Red Sox about flipping Tejada to Boston for Manny Ramírez and a pitcher, presumably Matt Clement.
Philadelphia's willingness to explore a Tejada-Ramírez deal would suggest they might be persuaded to consider taking on Ramírez in another deal, perhaps one featuring Abreu. The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that as far back as the trading deadline last July, the Phillies -- whose manager, Charlie Manuel, has enjoyed a long association with Ramírez dating to their time together in Cleveland -- had sniffed around about a Ramírez deal, and did so again during the GM meetings. They came away with the idea that Ramírez, who has veto power over any deal, wasn't keen on playing for the Phillies, but perhaps, with the start of spring training just five weeks away, they have reason to believe Ramírez would reconsider.
Trading Abreu is not without complications, however. He is guaranteed $31 million over the next two years, and there is an $18 million club option for the 2008 season that Abreu presumably would like to see exercised in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause.
The Sox, who last month traded incumbent shortstop Edgar Renteria just weeks after trading top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramírez, had targeted Tejada as the kind of player they'd want in any deal for Manny Ramírez. Tejada, speaking after his game Saturday night in the Dominican, admitted he thought he might be going to the Red Sox.
''I think Boston was trying to get me," he said. ''If anything happens, we'll wait and see. Maybe it will happen later on. Right now, I'm happy in Baltimore."
Tejada confirmed he had called Duquette, saying, ''I'm done with that," regarding his trade request, but he did not back off on his complaints about the club's direction.
''I hope people understand, I was speaking for everybody," he said. ''I speak for every player, I speak for the coaches, and I hope they heard what I said."
The Sox are left to discern whether Tejada truly has reversed course -- which is obviously the way the Orioles are interpreting his remarks, at least publicly -- or whether there might still be circumstances that would allow a trade to proceed.
In the meantime, the Sox will continue their conversations about infielder Julio Lugo with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who last night were faced with a midnight deadline to sign one of their own free agents, shortstop Alex Gonzalez. The Devil Rays almost certainly were going to pass on Gonzalez, which leaves open the question of what they would do at short if they trade Lugo, who would move over from second. One possibility is giving the job to touted prospect B.J. Upton, though he probably could use more seasoning. Another possibility is a trade for Kaz Matsui from the Mets, who have interest in Lugo as a second baseman and also in pitcher Aaron Heilman.
The Devil Rays have asked the Sox for Andy Marte, the third base prospect Boston received from Atlanta in the Renteria deal. The Sox have been unwilling to part with Marte, but they may feel greater urgency to make a deal than Tampa Bay.
The Sox have said they're willing to start the season with Alex Cora at short, with rookie Dustin Pedroia, who played second last season in the minors, also getting a look there.
The Sox also continue to talk with the Dodgers and Athletics about a possible three-way deal involving David Wells, who would go to LA, while the Sox would facilitate the return of Jay Payton to Boston, with Payton presumably happier in an everyday role than he was as a backup last year.