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Report: Epstein pursued King Felix blockbuster

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 3, 2009 12:57 PM

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The Red Sox' trade for Victor Martinez was one of the headline-grabbing swaps at Friday's trade deadline . . . but according to a report out of Seattle this morning, that deal was nothing compared to a mega-blockbuster general manager Theo Epstein was apparently trying to pull off.

According to a blog post by Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, conversations between the Red Sox and the Mariners about 22-year-old Seattle ace Felix Hernandez went well beyond a cursory conversation or two.

Baker writes that the Red Sox approached the Mariners about Hernandez, who is 12-4 with a 2.78 ERA this year, and offered them a list of eight prospects, from which the Mariners could take five. The list:

    RHP Clay Buchholz
    RHP Daniel Bard
    RHP Justin Masterson
    LHP Nick Hagadone
    RHP Michael Bowden
    LHP Felix Doubront
    OF Josh Reddick
    SS Yamaico Navarro

The Mariners turned that proposal down, according to Baker. But Epstein was unbowed, and contacted Padres general manager Kevin Towers to try to swing a three-way deal between the clubs.

Writes Baker:

It has since come out that Epstein and Towers were discussing a trade that would send home run slugger Adrian Gonzalez to Boston. But wait. Apparently, Epstein wants Hernandez more than anybody, even Gonzalez.

So, the three teams start discussing a possible three-way deal with Seattle that would send Gonzalez to the Mariners, along with Buchholz and a couple of other Red Sox prospects.

The Red Sox would get Hernandez.

And the Padres would get Brandon Morrow, Phillippe Aumont and Carlos Triunfel from Seattle, along with a couple of other top Boston prospects.

Baker goes on to explain that the deal fell apart when the Mariners didn't think it would immediately benefit the franchise. But he also notes that there is a chance Hernandez could be available down the road if he doesn't sign a long-term contract with the Mariners in the next year or so. He makes $3.8 million this season and does not become eligible for free agency until 2011.

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