Manny to the Marlins? The idea, first reported by SI.com, is not as wacky as it sounds.
The chances of the Red Sox trading Manny Ramirez remain slim, but executives from at least one rival club in touch with Boston are convinced that the Sox are intent on purging their left fielder.
The Red Sox and Marlins are talking, major-league sources confirmed, and here's how a deal could work:
The Red Sox would pay nearly all of the approximately $7 million remaining on Ramirez's salary.
The Marlins would include Josh Willingham or Jeremy Hermida, either of whom could replace Ramirez in left field, plus a prospect.
Ramirez would waive his no-trade clause in exchange for the right to become a free agent at the end of the season.
He also would agree to decline salary arbitration when offered it by the Marlins in December, enabling the team to preserve its right to draft-pick compensation while avoiding getting crushed by Ramirez on a one-year deal.
The deal would follow the template of the one struck Tuesday by the Angels, who acquired first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Braves for first baseman Casey Kotchman and pitching prospect Stephen Marek.
Ramirez would be a two-month rental, the equivalent of Teixeira. Willingham or Hermida would be the equivalent of Kotchman, a player the Red Sox would control through his three arbitration years.
The difference is, the Marlins would have virtually no chance of signing Ramirez, and they also lack an obvious replacement for Willingham or Hermida. The Angels could either keep Teixeira or replace him with Class AAA first baseman Kendry Morales next season.
The Marlins, though, routinely think outside the box. In essence, all of their players are rentals, at least once they reach arbitration. Willingham's back issues are a concern. Then again, the condition of Ramirez's knee might also be an issue.
A deal only would make sense for the Marlins if they believed that Ramirez was healthy enough to be a significant upgrade over either outfielder they traded — and if they were satisfied that his arrival would not disrupt a clubhouse full of hungry players, many of whom have a shared history with the organization.
The Red Sox might not find a better trading partner.
The Mets say they are not interested in Ramirez. The Phillies, sources say, would take him, but only if the deal were a "giveaway" — say, outfielder Geoff Jenkins and a fringe prospect. The Red Sox could not make such a trade without hurting their team unless they acquired a slugger such as the Pirates' Jason Bay or Reds' Adam Dunn in a separate deal.
The appeal for a team trying to obtain Ramirez is that it would be getting an extremely motivated player — at least, by Manny's standards. Most rival executives, however, believe the only way the Red Sox will trade Ramirez is if they make an emotional decision — which, for them, would be out of character.
"They won't move Manny," one rival exec says. "No one is going to give them anything for him. And they know they can't win without him.
"All they have to do is put up with him for two more months. It will quiet down in a few days, there will be hugs and kisses and he'll be gone at the end season."
That is, when the Red Sox decline his $20 million option.
Huge outfield for Manny to cover, plus having to part with an .850 OPS bat in Willingham or Hermida (When fully healthy). I don't see it as a major gain for Florida if they do make that move. He's not the same hitter he was 3 years ago. Still very good, but starting to decline.