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Manny trade talks 'all but dead'

Red Sox fail to find match for Hall of Fame slugger

Posted: Tuesday December 5, 2006 6:23PM; Updated: Tuesday December 5, 2006 6:54PM
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By Jon Heyman, SI.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Red Sox are about to call a halt to the Manny Ramirez trade-a-thon, leaving five teams disappointed to varying degrees (six if you count the Yankees).

Red Sox people on Tuesday were saying they had virtually lost hope of anyone matching their requests, leaving the state of Manny talks as something along the lines of "all but dead."

General manager Theo Epstein has said that Wednesday is when he stops shopping Ramirez around. People familiar with the talks were saying on Monday that almost no progress had been made in a week.

Boston has talked to at least five of the 13 clubs on Ramirez's list of 13 preapproved teams and failed to come to an agreement with any of them. Or even get very close, apparently.

Teams complained that the Red Sox were asking for too much, while Boston folks countered that they were being more than reasonable regarding one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time.

Epstein talked directly to the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Giants and Indians, and when he failed to find a match, briefly considered the possibility of a three-way trade involving the Nationals as a conduit with either the Angels or Giants. Washington was hoping to persuade Boston to try to acquire either Angels pitcher Ervin Santana or Giants pitcher Matt Cain and become the go-between for a trade in which Boston would land several pieces, possibly including closer extraordinaire Chad Cordero.

However, that never got off the ground, as Boston preferred the idea of keeping Santana if they could pry him away from the Angels. Someone familiar with those three-way talks declared they were "dead" by midday Monday.

A great bulk of Boston's time was spent talking directly to the interested teams, most notably the Dodgers, Angels and Mariners, who all possess the young players to interest Boston. The problem with the Dodgers was that Boston wanted more of their highly-regarded youngsters than they were willing to deliver.

The Angels have been fairly consistent in their resolve to keep Santana, as well as top relievers Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez, their closer. From Anaheim, Boston also sought shortstop prospect Erick Aybar, who's ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

The Red Sox would have liked to come away with a top-flight reliever, a right-handed bat to replace Ramirez' and a starting shortstop (so they can avoid giving in to Julio Lugo's demands for a $36 million, four-year deal).

The Red Sox hoped the Angels would become involved since Boston relishes their players and probably thought Ramirez was as likely to accept that locale as any of the others.

Boston can lament that this was the fourth time they failed to trade Ramirez after he made a request. But their competitors see this as good fortune for the Red Sox since he is so productive and basically irreplaceable. "Of course Manny's staying," one cynical competitor said. "They never wanted to move him in the first place."