DALLAS -- While trade talks involving Manny Ramírez may have stalled yesterday -- a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations indicated that the Mets are not in the bidding and the Angels had not been heard from yesterday -- the Red Sox were moving aggressively to trade shortstop Edgar Renteria.
Renteria, Boston's prize free agent acquisition last winter, has fallen out of favor after a 30-error season. He could be headed to the Braves as part of a three-way deal with the Devil Rays in which the Sox would receive Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo while Tampa Bay would get prospects from Atlanta, presumably highly regarded third baseman Andy Marte and another player.
Two sources with direct knowledge of negotiations last night confirmed that such a deal is being discussed. What's holding things up is money. The Braves want the Sox to eat a portion of the $30 million remaining on Renteria's salary.
The Braves lost their shortstop, free agent Rafael Furcal, who agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Dodgers last weekend, and have always held Renteria in high regard.
The Sox would play Lugo, who hit .295, knocked in 57 runs, and made 24 errors last season, at shortstop or second base, depending on two other deals they had on the table. They asked the Angels about Orlando Cabrera, the shortstop for Boston's 2004 World Series champions, and also are trying to persuade the Padres to take catcher Doug Mirabelli straight up for second baseman Mark Loretta.
A new team, the Oakland Athletics, looms as a trading partner for lefthanded pitcher David Wells, with the Red Sox receiving reliever Justin Duchscherer in exchange. Wells would prefer to go back to San Diego and the National League, but yesterday the Padres were focused on re-signing closer Trevor Hoffman, who also was considering an offer from Cleveland.
The Sox asked for Cabrera as part of the package they were seeking in exchange for Ramírez, but a source with direct knowledge of the Angels' thinking said he did not expect the Angels to make a deal for the Red Sox slugger. ''It's not happening," he said.
Meanwhile, the Mets, who already have made a series of major moves this offseason, are not in the running for Ramírez, according to the source with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
Mets GM Omar Minaya, in a group session with Mets beat reporters, lent credence to that notion last night.
''Getting the extra big bat is not a priority," Minaya said. ''What's more of a priority for us is making sure we get a good bench in place and continuing to improve the bullpen. Getting a big bat is not a No. 1 priority because of [Carlos] Delgado.
If the Mets and Angels are out, do the Sox have a match for Manny? ''Probably not," said a source with direct knowledge of negotiations.
One viable option could still be the Texas Rangers, who remain in contact with the Sox and are talking about a package that would include Alfonso Soriano and Hank Blalock. Blalock is a third baseman but he or newly acquired Mike Lowell could move to first base.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino acknowledged yesterday afternoon that trading Ramírez wasn't likely to happen before the end of the meetings, which conclude tomorrow after the Rule 5 draft.
''It's such a big deal, it's not likely to get done," said Lucchino, who was expected to return to Boston today.
The Sox have yet to make a followup offer to free agent Johnny Damon -- their initial proposal was believed to be for three years and around $28 million -- but were preparing to do so, most likely before they left here. Unless the Sox substantially increase their offer, it would appear unlikely that they will re-sign Damon quickly.
Though no other bidders for Damon have surfaced publicly, the Sox were led to believe that Damon does indeed have other offers in hand. Yankees GM Brian Cashman, whose team is in the market for a center fielder, acknowledged speaking with Damon's agent, Scott Boras, on a number of topics yesterday, but the Yankees have not yet entered the bidding.
The Sox also talked yesterday with the Seattle Mariners, who asked about outfielder Trot Nixon.