With the trading deadline this afternoon at 4 looming, the Red Sox were awaiting word back from potential trading partners on their proposals for an impact bat and reliever.
A major league source with direct knowledge of the talks between the Red Sox and White Sox said last night he believed there was "a good chance" the teams could come to an agreement this morning on a trade for outfielder Jermaine Dye. The White Sox were willing to take outfielder Wily Mo Peña as part of the deal, but as of yesterday the Red Sox were unwilling to include reliever Manny Delcarmen or highly regarded minor league pitching prospect Justin Masterson in a trade for Dye, a potential free agent after the season. But there were indications last night the Red Sox had made a revised offer for Dye that was under serious consideration by White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.
The White Sox did create an open spot on their 40-man roster when they placed catcher Gustavo Molina on waivers, which could be interpreted as a prelude to a deal in which Chicago would receive multiple players in return. Molina was claimed by the Orioles.
The biggest bat on the market, switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixeira, was headed from Texas to the Atlanta Braves, according to numerous published reports, with the Braves parting with prized catching prospect Jason Saltalamacchia as the centerpiece of the package going back to Texas. The Red Sox had engaged the Rangers in talks for Teixeira, but those talks went nowhere after the Red Sox made it known they would not part with either outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury or righthander Clay Buchholz, the team's No. 1 pitching prospect.
The Braves also appeared on the verge of acquiring reliever Octavio Dotel from the Kansas City Royals, a pitcher the Red Sox seriously had considered signing last winter and also made a bid for in recent days. One major league scout said the Red Sox instead had focused their efforts on Eric Gagne of the Rangers and were on the verge of acquiring him, but that could not be corroborated as of late last night. Gagne has veto power over any deal to the Red Sox, and his contract includes incentives based on number of saves, which he would not meet if he is setting up Jonathan Papelbon in Boston.
Both New York teams, as well as the Brewers, have joined the Red Sox in pursuit of Gagne, and there were indications last night the Rangers were attempting to sign him to an extension.
Dye, 33, was the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 World Series and had a terrific year in 2006, hitting 44 home runs while driving in 120 runs. But he was part of a team-wide offensive collapse in Chicago this season, batting just .214 with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in the first half. He has been prolific, however, since the All-Star break, batting .318 with a slugging percentage of .727 in his last 18 games, in which he has hit seven home runs and knocked in 13 runs.
The Sox were looking for a righthanded bat who could deliver more than Peña has as a fourth outfielder, but given the continued struggles of J.D. Drew and the dropoff in production of sore-kneed designated hitter David Ortiz, their interest in a bigger bat like Dye's has spiked.
Since hitting home runs in consecutive games against Atlanta on June 19 and 20, Ortiz has hit just three home runs and driven in 15 runs in his last 29 games. He is batting .285 in that span, and just had a 13-game hitting streak snapped by Tampa Bay Sunday, but his slugging percentage in that stretch has been just .414.
Drew, meanwhile, homered in the same game as Ortiz June 20, but has not hit another homer in 28 games since (though one was taken away by a bad call by umpire Tim McClelland on Boston's previous homestand). Drew is batting just .258 since then, with an ultralight .351 slugging percentage. Of his 25 hits in that period, only nine have gone for extra bases, all doubles.
Gordon Edes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.