Manny Ramirez Traded

Today the Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers. It’s actually a 3-way trade, also involving the Pirates, which works out like this:

  1. The Red Sox trade Manny Ramirez (LF, age 36) to the Dodgers.
  2. The Pirates trade Jason Bay (LF, age 29) to the Red Sox.
  3. The Dodgers trade Andy LaRoche (3B, age 24) and Bryan Morris (SP, age 21) to the Pirates.
  4. The Red Sox also trade Craig Hansen (RP, age 24) and Brandon Moss (OF, age 24) to the Pirates.
  5. Plus the Red Sox send $7M in cash to the Dodgers to cover the rest of Manny’s 2008 salary.

Overall I think this is a good trade for the Dodgers and Pirates. For the Red Sox, I think it’s not a good trade, but I think it’s not a bad one either given their stocked farm system, financial means, and the strange circumstances of the trade itself.

I don’t have a lot to say about the Dodgers and Pirates ends of the trade: The Dodgers traded a prospect they clearly had little confidence in plus a low-level pitcher for one of the best available hitters, and they don’t even have to pay him! Assuming the Diamondbacks don’t counter with their own trade, the Dodgers could be the favorites to win the NL West now. The Pirates had a pretty barren farm system and anything their new GM can inject into it is going to help. The Pirates are a long way from contending, and while it’s fun to wonder whether they could have gotten more for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte (and they probably could have), in their position I think that’s splitting hairs. Until they acquire some impact players – probably through the draft – they’re just trying to rebuild the organization.

The deal is a very interesting one from the Red Sox’ end. Reportedly Manny has been agitating to get out of Boston, saying he’d waive his no-trade clause if the Sox would decline their options to pick up his contract for 2009 and 2010 (at $20M per year). Why has he been agitating to get out? I have no idea, and I can’t tell whether anyone else does, either. Is he fed up with Boston? With Red Sox management? Is he feuding with other players? Did he just decide he’s done what he can do in Boston and he’d feel more comfortable playing for another team? Or did he just want to have his options declined so he can try to sign one more long-term deal, which might possibly net him even more money over the length of the deal? Beats me.

But Boston has apparently been very good to Manny, both in fan support for him and in management bending over backwards to accommodate his foibles. In other towns, on other teams, Manny could have ended up as Barry Bonds of the American League, a moody, private player who runs his team the way he wants to. Instead Manny was a star on a team of stars, which won two World Series during his tenure. If he caught some flak for “Manny being Manny” from time to time, I know the memories I have of him tend to involve him hitting home runs, or running on the field with a big smile on his face. Manny’s antics – such as they were – don’t come close to stacking up against those of Bill Lee, or Wade Boggs, or Ted Williams.

Assuming Manny was the driving force behind the trade, I think it’s to the Red Sox’ credit that they worked to accommodate his departure as well as they did his presence, trading him to a contending team in a deal which isn’t truly to their benefit, as they traded two prospects and cash along with him in order to get a player who’s younger, and maybe as good, but that’s hardly guaranteed.

Jason Bay is a good player, he hits a ton and seems to have a decent defensive reputation (Manny was not a good fielder). He’s also a lot cheaper, being signed for $7.5M next year, and of course he’s 7 years younger. In 2008, he might be as valuable as Manny. We’ll see. In 2009, he could provide similar value for a lot less money, which means the Sox will be players in the free agent market this off-season, not to mention having some money to throw around to help acquire players in trade.

And who did the Sox give up? Hansen is starting to look more suspect than prospect, and relief pitchers tend to be fungible anyway. Moss is a bit more of a loss, although he’s not looking like a star in the making.

Overall, I think this deal is a lose for the Red Sox, but not a large one. It’s too bad to see Manny head out this way, but in a way it seems fitting given his sometimes-baffling tenure with the team. Bay should be a solid addition for the next year-plus, and ought to help us win this year. The big win for the Sox is that Manny’s intermittent injuries are now the Dodgers’ problem, and they don’t have to figure out what to do when he gets hurt, since they don’t have a DH slot to place him in. Bay isn’t an iron man, but he’s also not 36 years old; I expect Manny to get more fragile over the next couple of years.

I’d have been happy to have kept Manny for this year, though. He’s still an asset, and one more run at the brass ring with this Red Sox team would have been fun to watch. Ah, well. I hope playing for the Dodgers gives him what he’s looking for, whatever that is.

2 thoughts on “Manny Ramirez Traded”

  1. I largely agree with you, except that I can’t really figure out one piece of the puzzle; namely, why did Manny request that the options be declined by his new team, and agree not to accept arbitration?

    He’s a 36-year-old monster slugger with a horrible defensive reputation, a reputation for wacky off-the-field behavior whose last two years have been poor (2007) and good (2008) but not up to his prior standards (which, admittedly, would not look out of place in other Hall-of-Fame caliber players’ resumes). Does he really think he’s going to get $20M per in the offseason? and why not give yourself the arbitration out, where it would be easy to assure yourself of $20M for the next year?

    The other aspect that leaves me hesitant on the Dodgers’ behalf is that they’ve shown themselves to be quite capable of squandering the talent at hand. Juan Pierre has ~300 AB this year; even with injuries to Andruw Jones, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and poor play by Jones, that’s way too many. If the Dodgers don’t move to an outfield with Manny, Kemp and Ethier, with Jones/Pierre as defensive replacements and *rare* spot starts, they’ll squander the advantage they’ve gained. If they effectively bench Ethier or Kemp, well, what was the point?

  2. It’s hard to see his 2007 season as ‘poor’, since he was the 8th-best LF by VORP in the Majors that year. (Wow, even one of the worst seasons of his career isn’t ‘poor’!)

    My best guess is that Manny wanted one of the following:

    1) The right to decide where he’ll play out the final years of his career. By some accounts he’s never been terribly happy n a big market, and he might want the opportunity to play for a good team in a smaller market, maybe even returning to Cleveland.

    2) He might figure that since his 2009 and 2010 options aren’t guaranteed, he’d rather go to free agency and try to lock up a good contract for the rest of his career now rather than trying to do so 1 or 2 years from now. Given his performance in 2008, I could see him getting a 4- or 5-year deal at over $10M per, while even if he got his next 2 options picked up, there’s some chance that he’ll just fall off a cliff and make very little money after that.

    I have no idea if that’s what he’s actually thinking. The first point is obviously just personal preference, and not something that can really be argued with. I can see some justification for the second point, although it’s not a sure thing. But if he were to say this was in his mind, I think it’s a plausible reason.

    On the Dodgers’ end, I think Manny is an upgrade (this year) over any of their other outfielders, at least with the bat. How much of an upgrade depends on how they deploy them, as you say. But since they basically gave up nothing they were going to use (putting aside the wisdom of how they handled those resources that they traded away), they didn’t exactly pay a steep price for him.

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