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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. -- Manny Ramirez gave the Red Sox a list of 13 preferred teams for trades, SI.com has learned, and Boston is now in discussions with three of those teams -- the Dodgers, Mariners and one undisclosed team.
The emergence of surprise Seattle as a possible entry in the Manny Derby is interesting, but the likelihood of a quick deal with any of the three teams seems remote. One competing executive suggested the Red Sox are seeking a "Herschel Walker type deal," for Ramirez, meaning they want a number of young impact players.
As valuable as Ramirez is, teams generally treat young, low-priced talent like gold and are extremely reticent to surrender that type of player.
People involved in the talks say little or no progress has been made toward a Manny deal during the first couple days here at the Winter Meetings, but the Red Sox have a couple meetings scheduled and intend to keep trying.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are holding out hope that they can interest the late-arriving Angels executives. If the Angels have a change of heart and begin to pursue Ramirez, they'd bring a couple advantages for Boston: 1) they have superior young talent, and 2) the chances for Ramirez to OK a deal are better for them since he's long been interested in going to Orange County (even though he's submitted a preferred list, he is under no obligation to abide by it).
Indications are that Boston's talks with the Dodgers involve a group of extremely young players who are either entering their second year in the big leagues or on the cusp of cracking the bigs, and word late Monday was that the Dodgers may be balking at the number of prospects Boston seeks. Another possible key to the deal, people familiar with the talks said, is hard-throwing relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton. One executive of a competing team said, "I can see why. He's very talented. My only concern might be how big he might get."
Even so, the Dodgers are stocked with coveted youngsters, from outfielders Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to first baseman James Loney to third base prospect Andy LaRoche to pitcher Chad Billinsgley.
Even without Broxton, they might still be able to make a deal for Ramirez, Some scouts have described Kemp as a "better, more powerful Brian Jordan" or even better, a "budding Dave Winfield," but one National League scout suggested Boston will be disappointed if they are imagining him as their center fielder. That scout said, "He's fast, but he doesn't seem to have the instincts for center."
The Mariners also possess the makings of a deal. Boston is most interested in a closer, and Seattle has two relievers with closing ability, J.J. Putz and Rafael Soriano. The Mariners also have a young outfielder, Adam Jones, and two veteran power-hitting corner infielders, Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre, who could entice Boston. Oddly enough, Sexson and Beltre are two players who could interest Anaheim, as well.
But for now, Anaheim remains on the sidelines in the Ramirez chase. The Angels have said they concentrating on pitching and defense, and their first big acquisition, center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., bears that out. However, Boston can still dream.
Angels owner Arte Moreno promised something "major" this winter, and he's the type to usually put his money where his mouth is. Should Anaheim ever signal a willingness to discuss things, it is expected that Boston would request one of two star young pitchers, Ervin Santana or John Lackey, probably Santana. Santana was offered for Miguel Tejada at the trade deadline last summer, but Angels people seem to have some remorse about even offering him and have expressed a deep wish to hold onto him.
The Red Sox also would be interested in Angels setup man extraordinaire Scot Shields, but Los Angeles of Anaheim seems unlikely to trade him. "We didn't sign (Justin) Speier to make Shields available," one Angels person said. "We intend to keep Shields."
The Red Sox are specifically most interested in bullpen help, a shortstop and a center fielder. Their former shortstop Orlando Cabrera should interest them, but while the Angels have a rising shortstop star in the minors in Brandon Wood, he isn't expected to be ready in 2007.
The Manny Market seems to be thinning out, not necessarily for lack of interest but for a paucity of good matches. The Giants aren't believed to have a fit with Boston, and the Indians, always a longshot in this derby, appear to have filled their outfield need when they signed David Dellucci to a three-year deal.