The long awaited Manny Ramirez trade took place today, although not to the team (Florida Marlins) that many had predicted. As the minutes ticked down towards the end of the trade deadline the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates pulled off a blockbuster six player trade.
Ramirez packs his bags for L.A. to play left field for the Dodgers, the Red Sox receive Jason Bay from the Pirates, and Pittsburgh receives two prospects from both teams as part of the last second deal that could dramatically shift the course of two divisions.
There has seemingly been a deal in place to trade Manny from the Red Sox from the day he arrived in Boston, but that speculation finally turned into reality today as GM Theo Epstein apparently decided that “Manny being Manny” was no longer what his team needed. Ramirez was a key cog in the Sox lineup over the last 7 1/2 years and helped lead them to two World Series victories. But his lackadaisical effort in the field and on the basepaths as well as his recent comments, “the Red Sox don’t deserve a player like me”, outweighed his production at the plate and forced Boston to make a move. In addition to shipping Manny to the Dodgers, the BoSox also sent reliever Craig Hansen and outfielder Brandon Moss to the Pirates and agreed to pay the remaining $7 million on Ramirez’s contract.
The Dodgers, sorely lacking a true threat in the middle of their lineup (apologies to Jeff Kent), pulled the trigger on the deal that brings them a two month rental of a future hall-of-famer for the cost of two prospects, third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris. Despite coming into the day at 54-53 the Dodgers find themselves just one game behind the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks. Ramirez will move into a crowded outfield that already includes Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre and the ghost of Andruw Jones.
The Pirates continue their 30-year rebuilding plan by trading away a productive outfielder and fan favorite in Jason Bay for a package of four prospects. Pittsburgh actually receives a decent haul in this deal as LaRoche could become an average everyday third baseman with plus-power, and Moss could turn into a quality fourth outfielder, or even a starter (think David Murphy, another Boston product). Craig Hansen is a former first round draft choice with electric stuff who has yet to find any consistency out of Boston’s bullpen. Bryan Morris is still likely a few years away for the big leagues, but the Pirates got three players that they can add to their roster immediately and coupled with the package they received from the Yankees in the Nady-Marte trade, could compete for the NL Central title in the next few seasons.
This move sent shockwaves throughout the baseball world which will continue to be felt as the season progresses and the pennant races shape up. The Dodgers add a power bat in the middle of the order and make themselves an instant favorite to capture the weak NL West. The Red Sox gave up one of their most consistent headaches hitters and can only hope that Bay matches Ramirez’s production as they battle the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees for the AL East title. The Pirates continue to frustrate their fanbase by trading away a quality player for unproven talent. The full ramifications of this trade will not be known until October (and many years later for Pittsburgh), but on paper it significantly impacts the landscapes of two divisions and finally puts Andruw Jones where he belongs, on a diet the bench.