A few updates of note on the Manny Ramirez potential trade front are making their way around the Internet this afternoon.
First, the New York Post's Joel Sherman posted the following update regarding Red Sox and Dodgers talking about an interesting trade scenario involving Manny Ramirez:
The Red Sox and Dodgers are engaged in substantive talks involving Manny Ramirez, according to sources, and if a deal can be finalized the expectation is that Boston would push to the front of the line on obtaining Mark Teixeira from the Braves.
At present, the Diamondbacks are viewed within the industry as the frontrunner for Teixeira. They are willing to build a package around Chad Tracy and a young pitcher, probably Micah Owings. Arizona has taken top pitching prospects Max Scherzer and Jarrod Parker out of all discussions.
And it may be that the Diamondbacks are truly never challenged for Teixeira. An NL executive said he believes the Dodgers may use major chips to obtain Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts rather than Ramirez. Los Angeles has been working to find a shortstop, but in this scenario they would upgrade at second with Roberts and probably live with Nomar Garciaparra and Geronimo Berroa splitting shortstop. Obtaining Roberts would displace Jeff Kent, who would then possibly play first base against lefties and fill a pinch-hit role in what may be his final major league season.
SI.com's Jon Heyman also posted about the Dodgers potential interest in Manny this afternoon:
...the talks are said to be in the very early stages, and there are numerous complications and hurdles to clear for a Dodgers deal to get done. People familiar with the talks say it is too early to gauge the chances for a trade.
Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, a Bostonian, is believed to love the idea of adding Ramirez to bolster the Dodgers' mediocre offense. However, McCourt, whose team has previously acquired or signed ex-Red Sox Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, Bill Mueller and manager Grady Little under his stewardship, has been telling Dodgers people he doesn't want to add payroll during this trading season, and has been openly complaining about disappointing attendance and revenues. Ramirez is making $20 million this year.
The other teams showing interest in Ramirez aren't known. However, the Mets are said to not be involved.
Dodgers players likely to interest the Red Sox would include young outfielders Matt Kemp and perhaps Andre Ethier. The Dodgers have a deep reservoir of young talent. Another possibility could be for Boston, which is known to have one of the more creative front offices in baseball, to take young players from the Dodgers and offer them to Atlanta for Mark Teixeira, who would appear to be the Red Sox's best hope of replicating Ramirez's dangerous bat. The Diamondbacks are seen as a favorite for Teixeira, although they are telling Atlanta they won't include either of two top young pitchers -- Max Scherzer or Jarrod Parker -- with first baseman Chad Tracy for Teixeira, who is eligible for free agency at year's end. Other teams seen as interested in Teixeira include the Rays, Angels and Dodgers.
A Red Sox official touched base with the Dodgers on Manny, according to the Globe's Gordon Edes, but L.A. is more focused on getting pitching help. Edes reported that the Dodgers would be interested in Manny, if the Sox took Andruw Jones back, and he's been a colossal bust.
ESPN's Jayson Stark writes this afternoon that the Red Sox are in the Mark Teixeira mix along with the Angels, Dodgers, and Yankees:
According to clubs that have spoken with the Braves, the bulk of their conversations continue to be with the four primary teams identified Monday -- the Diamondbacks, Angels, Rays and Red Sox. However, there are indications now that the Dodgers and Yankees have "flirted" with the Braves on Teixeira in the past 24 hours, said an official of one team that spoke with the Atlanta brass.
Clubs involved in these discussions believe the Braves plan to take much of the day Tuesday narrowing their focus with each of the clubs involved and zeroing in on which available names make the most sense. They would then try to close in on a deal with the team, or teams, they think provide the best fit over the next 24 hours.
According to a blog post by Dan Graziano of The Star-Ledger Monday night, Manny-to-the-Mets has some life:
Contrary to the denials that made the rounds Monday, officials from both teams say the Mets have contacted the Red Sox about Manny Ramirez and are interested in pursuing a deal for him if Boston decides to make him available.
The Red Sox suspect that GM Omar Minaya wants Ramirez more than Mets ownership does. Regardless, the Mets are reluctant to part with top-prospect talent in exchange for outfielders like Adam Dunn, Raul Ibanez and Randy Winn, but they (rightly) consider Ramirez a far superior hitter to those in that group, and they would discuss players in a Ramirez deal that they would not discuss in others. What remains to be seen is whether a Ramirez deal is too complicated to come together in time for the deadline.
The Globe reports that the Mets are not interested in Ramirez, according to a source who spoke directly with GM Omar Minaya.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick entered into the debate of whether Manny should be shipping out of Boston. Crasnick writes about all the options, then enters into some Q&A with readers on the Ramirez situation. Crasnick's verdict:
A trade seems unlikely for two reasons: The Red Sox need Ramirez's bat if they want to try to win in 2008. And if Manny is having trouble staying focused amid the financial uncertainty in Boston, wouldn't that be just as big an issue in his next destination? Potential suitors are probably smart enough to realize that.
As for Option 2, anything is possible. But given the harsh rhetoric making the rounds, Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards probably stand a better chance of getting back together than the Sox and Manny do of perpetuating their union.
Which leads us to the most likely course of action: The Red Sox keep Ramirez, hope he's gripped by a sudden fit of maturity over the next two months and realizes it's in his best interests to play hard and produce. Then the Sox decline his option and: a) funnel some of that $20 million into Pat Burrell, Jermaine Dye or another free agent; or b) dig into their deep well of prospects and make a trade. We always hear how ''creative'' Theo Epstein and his front office team are. This is a great opportunity to prove it.
...Manny being Manny means Manny wanting money. He doesn't want to wait for the Red Sox to exercise the right he gave them for the first $168M, the right to decide at the end of the season whether to pick up his option for 2009 at $20M. The Red Sox fulfilled their end of the contract; now he doesn't want to fulfill his obligation, the same way he watched his teammates fade in 2006.
He knows that this winter -- when he's 36, turning 37 next May -- he has a better chance of scoring the four-year, $100M deal he has told teammates he can get than he will after the 2010 season, when he'll be 38 turning 39. He doesn't want to have to sweat for two years at a measly $20M, and everyone knows that he couldn't care less how he gets that $100M, even if it means sitting out and leaving "family" fighting it out without him.
Manny is right. The Red Sox are tired of him. They are not going to pick up the option for 2009 and spend one more year as his prisoner. What he wants is to go to another team, on which he can put up big numbers for two months and either get that new contract, or go out on the market. Rationally, one would think he could do that in Boston -- first help the Red Sox into the postseason, then hit the market.
Over at ESPN's Page 2 today, Tim Keown looks at what it might be like if Manny actually did go over to Iraq.