Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Thursday, November 30, 2006

MANNY TO PADRES FOR PEAVY & GONZALEZ?

Whether or not capricious slugger Manny Ramirez will be traded by the Red Sox is a matter of much speculation, hinged on whether the Sox can get adequate value in return and whether Ramirez will agree to a trade. Ramirez can veto any deal because of his 10/5 status, and as such an unpredictable space shot, he might just change his mind and decide he wants to stay in Boston.

But an intriguing report out of San Diego indicates that the Padres have offered starting pitcher Jake Peavy and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in exchange for Ramirez.

Though Ramirez has never publicly stated that he wants to be traded, Curt Schilling confirmed the widely held assumption, though somewhat esoterically.

“I live with the guys, I have some insight,” Schilling said. “I don’t know for sure. I do know that I’ve spoken with Manny. Manny does want to be traded. Manny wants to play somewhere else.”

Perhaps only Schilling understands how he could not know for sure, yet still be so sure. Go figure.

The Dodgers, Giants, Padres, White Sox, and Rangers have all been mentioned as potential trading partners in the Ramirez sweepstakes. But so far, none of them has made a sufficient offer to the Sox to make the trade a reality. If San Diego's offer is for real, that may be about to change.

Getting fair value for Ramirez has been an issue for the Red Sox in previous trade talks. In his six seasons in Boston, Ramirez has averaged .316, 39 homers, 119 RBI, been a World Series MVP, won a batting title, a home-run title, and five Silver Slugger Awards. But the Padres offer is, perhaps, the best the Sox have yet received. Maybe by far.

The 25-year-old Peavey, the undisputed ace of the Padres' staff, had an off year in 2006, going 11-14 with a 4.09 ERA. That was in the weaker hitting NL, and in a pitcher's dream, the spacious Petco Park. The 6'1", 180 pound righty is 57-45 in five seasons, but has never won more than 15 games in any one of them. That came in 2004, his best year by far, when he went 15-6 with 2.27 ERA, and opened the eyes of baseball people everywhere. He followed that campaign with a 13-7, 2.88 effort in 2005. In both of those seasons, Peavey topped 200 innings and 200 strike outs.

Gonzalez, whom the Sox spoke to the Rangers about last offseason before he was traded to San Diego, is a 6'2", 220 pound left-handed slugger. In 2006, his first full season, Gonzalez hit .304 with 24 homers and 82 RBI. Of course, the acquisition of Gonzalez would precipitate the trade of Mike Lowell and the shifting of Kevin Youkilis back to third base.

Another potential stumbling block is that Ramirez has previously expressed an interest in remaining in the American League, where he feels comfortable with the pitchers and the parks. So San Diego, or any other NL team, may be out of the question. But with Manny, no one knows for sure, perhaps not even Man-Ram himself. It would hardly be surprising if he wakes up and goes to sleep with differing views.

Yet, money can somehow be a cure-all for almost anything. Getting his two option years picked up might be very persuasive. Right now, Ramirez has only two guaranteed years remaining on his current contract, and that would stand to double to four years if he accepts a trade. Even if Ramirez insists on a trade partner exercising his two option years at $20 million apiece in order for him to waive his no-trade rights, four years and $76 million suddenly seems quite reasonable for a player of his caliber in this current market.

Alfonso Soriano just agreed to an eight-year, $136 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Soriano had 46 homers, 41 stolen bases and 41 doubles last season with Washington, while batting .277 with 95 RBIs. Meanwhile, Ramirez has averaged 40 homers and 127 RBIs over the past nine years. Manny has consistently delivered, and if there's a way to earn an average of $20 million annually playing baseball, he's done it every year. A lifetime .314 hitter, with 470 homers and 1,516 RBI, Ramirez is a surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Copyright © 2006 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.

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