Hot stove rumors: Texas wants to trade A-Rod to Red Sox for Ramirez

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 7, 2003

NEW YORK - A-Rod could be the next big star moving to the AL East as the Boston Red Sox try to beat the New York Yankees in a heated game of ''Can you top this?''

The Red Sox are discussing acquiring the AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers for Manny Ramirez in what would be a swap of the only $20 million-a-year players in baseball history.

''There seems to be a focus that often leads to successful deals,'' Ramirez's agent, Jeff Moorad, said Friday.

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Moorad confirmed that Boston and Texas are talking. But he added: ''I've stayed in touch with both clubs over the last few days, and neither seemed optimistic today that a deal was imminent.''

Rodriguez told Texas last month before he won his first MVP award that he was open to having the Rangers explore a trade.

The shortstop has reached 47 homers and 118 RBIs in three straight seasons. Ramirez, an outfielder, had at least 33 homers and 104 RBIs in each of his three years in Boston.

''A-Rod's the best player in the game, and he plays a premium defensive position,'' said Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras. ''He certainly brings a moniker to a franchise. When a player like that is available, there are teams that are certainly going to do everything they can to pursue him.''

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino wouldn't confirm or deny any talks.

''All of these trade rumors come from Texas, not from us, and we aren't going to have any comment on any of them,'' he said.

Texas spokesman Gregg Elkin said there were no developments to report.

The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that Texas would make the deal if Boston would pay a ''considerable'' part of the remainder of Ramirez's contract. The paper cited sources with knowledge of the discussions. The New York Times reported talks were preliminary, citing an unidentified official familiar with the discussions.

After playing a classic AL championship series, won by the Yankees in the 11th inning of Game 7, New York and Boston are stocking up for another battle.

The Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling from Arizona last week, and the Yankees got Javier Vazquez from Montreal on Thursday. New York is posed to sign outfielder Gary Sheffield to a $39 million, three-year deal, and the Yankees have added Tom Gordon to their bullpen and are close to a deal with Paul Quantrill.

Rodriguez agreed to a record $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas in Dec. 11, 2000. Ramirez got a $160 million, eight-year deal from the Red Sox the very same day.

Their average salaries remain the two highest in baseball, and following three straight last-place finishes, Texas owner Tom Hicks wants to explore gaining relief from Rodriguez's contract.

Rodriguez is owed $179 million over the next seven seasons plus $4 million of his signing bonus, along $12 million deferred at 3 percent annual interest from salaries during his first three years with Texas.

Ramirez is due $97.5 million in the next five years plus $4 million of his signing bonus and $11 million deferred at 0.25 percent yearly interest from his first three seasons with the Red Sox.

While Rodriguez must give his permission for a trade, Ramirez does not. But his contract requires an additional $1 million payment if he is traded. Boston tested the market for him last month by putting him on irrevocable waivers, but Ramirez went unclaimed.

If the Red Sox acquired Rodriguez, they almost certainly would trade their current All-Star shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra. Both Anaheim and Los Angeles are interested, several agents for other players said Friday on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, about 180 free agents faced a midnight Sunday deadline to re-sign with their former teams unless they were offered salary arbitration.

Ivan Rodriguez was set to depart the World Series champion Florida Marlins, and Greg Maddux appeared ready to leave the Atlanta Braves after 11 seasons.

Rodriguez proposed a $40 million, four-year contract Friday during telephone negotiations with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

''We are not optimistic at this point that we are going to be able to reach resolution on a contract before Sunday night at midnight,'' general manager Larry Beinfest said. ''The financial goals of Pudge and the Marlins are significantly apart at this time.''

Ivan Rodriguez made $10 million last season, and Boras said the 10-time All-Star was willing to stay with the Marlins at the same price if he got a deal as long as the one Florida gave Mike Lowell earlier this week - the third baseman agreed to a $32 million, four-year contract.

Boras said the raise second baseman Luis Castillo got in his $16 million, three-year deal also was cited by Rodriguez. Boras, who also represents Maddux, has not talked with the Braves about the pitcher for about a month.

Among those players who re-signed Friday were Carlos Baerga with Arizona ($1 million), Dean Palmer with Detroit (minor league contract) and Lenny Harris with Florida (minor league contract).