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Red Sox land Lopez

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  August 4, 2006 01:04 PM

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. ó Javy Lopez will be in uniform tonight for the start of the Sox three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after the Sox make official their acquisition of the veteran catcher from the Baltimore Orioles, plus cash considerations, for a player to be named later.

The Orioles expect to receive a player from Bostonís 40-man roster, believed to be either lefthanded-hitting outfielder Adam Stern or switch-hitting infielder Alejandro Machado, but those plans could hit a snag.

According to major league sources, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would likely place a waiver claim on Machado and would consider doing so on Stern, effectively blocking those players from going to Baltimore. As of this afternoon, neither of those players had been placed on waivers by the Red Sox. Any players offered on waivers do not clear for 72 hours, so it is unlikely that the deal will be completed for another week, or more.

While the Devil Rays have legitimate interest in both players, there is another component that could motivate them to place a claim. According to multiple major league sources, the Devil Rays are convinced that the Red Sox made illegal contact with the agent for infielder Julio Lugo before the July 31 trading deadline, while Lugo was still under Tampa Bay's control. The Red Sox allegedly reached out to the agent, Dan Lozano, about whether Lugo would be willing to play second base and whether Lugo, a prospective free agent this winter, would be open to signing an extension. If true, that would constitute tampering, which is not allowed under Major League Baseball rules.

Talks the Devil Rays were conducting with the Sox about possible three-and-four-team trade scenarios involving Lugo essentially dried up once the Rays heard reports of the alleged contact between the Sox and Lozano, though sources say the Devil Rays did not confront either the Sox or the agent with their suspicions. In the absence of proof, the Devil Rays also do not have plans to file a grievance against the Red Sox with the commissionerís office, those sources say.

This is not the first time trade talks between the Sox and Devil Rays have turned contentious. Talks last winter regarding Lugo coming to Boston in a three-way deal with Atlanta broke down, as did another three-way scenario last July involving Lugo and Aubrey Huff coming to the Sox as part of a three-way deal with the Mets for Manny Ramirez.

Huff has since been traded to the Houston Astros, while Lugo was dealt shortly before the July 31 trading deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who did not make a play for Lugo until there were less than two hours to go before the deadline.

As part of the Lopez trade, the Red Sox are expected to receive in the neighborhood of $1.4 million from the Oís, although that figure could change if the Oís do not get the player they expected to receive.

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