According to the Palm Beach Post, a tentative agreement has been reached that will end the Manny Ramirez era in Boston.
However, other sources such as Peter Gammons of ESPN, have said that the deal, which also includes the Pittsburgh Pirates, could collapse at any second.
If the deal does, in fact, go through, the Florida Marlins will add a proven run producer in Ramirez. He will definitely help bolster their powerful offensive attack, which is already leading the majors in home runs but ranks 25th out of 30 teams in on-base percentage. The disgruntled slugger, whose “Manny Being Manny” antics are wearing thin in the Boston organization, remains among the most productive hitters in the majors at 36 years old.
Ramirez is currently batting .299/.398/.529 with 20 home runs and 68 RBIs, but has dogged it when running out ground balls twice in the past week. Although he makes about as much money as the entire Florida 25-man roster combined, at $20 million, the Red Sox will most likely cover the remaining $6 million left on the deal. They will also receive an unnamed prospect.
Ramirez can become a free agent after the season, as it is unlikely that his option will be picked up. Thus, if Florida does add him to its lineup, they are taking on a risk for a brief rental with their eyes on playing baseball in October.
The Marlins are currently 51-58, 1.5 games back in the weak National League East, but has a negative run differential, a shaky defense and an inexperienced pitching staff. Thus, parting ways with a few talented, young players may come back to bite them if they fail to reach the playoffs.
However, the addition of such a popular player-who loves the Miami area-may help out at the ticket window and will undoubtedly improve their chances of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the franchise's second World Series title back in 2003. While the club is a few years away from really having a strong team as their top pitching prospects develop, it clearly want to win right now. Also, Ramirez will bring in two compensation picks once he bolts for free agency.
If the report is true, the Marlins will part ways with Jeremy Hermida and Ryan Tucker, each of whom will wind up in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates will also receive a prospect from Boston, who will get Jason Bay and John Grabow in return.
Hermida, the Marlins’ right fielder, is batting .257/.328/.444 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs. He provided one of the only bright spots for the Marlins in 2007, hitting .296/.369/.501 with 18 homers and an .870 OPS in a career-high 429 at-bats during a breakout campaign to emerge as a mainstay in the middle of the lineup. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter, who also possesses a strong arm in right field, has a .798 career OPS.
Tucker, a first-round pick back in 2005, made his major league debut with the Marlins at the end of June. He struggled with the jump to the highest level, though, going 2-3 with a 8.38 ERA and 26-to-22 K/W ratio in 10 appearances, including six relatively ineffective starts, before being shipped back down to Double-A on July 24. He has excellent stuff and profiles as a nice long-term prospect, but needs to straighten out his command and control problems.
These factors were an issue for Tucker during his brief stint in the majors, where he struggled to work ahead and throw strikes while surrendering eight home runs in 34.1 innings pitched. The 21-year-old, who has a mid-90s fastball and as much pure arm strength as any pitcher in the Marlins' system, may turn into a reliever before it is all said and done. He began the season in the Southern League, where he went 4-2 with a 1.38 ERA and 62-to-28 K/W ratio in 72.0 innings pitched for the Carolina Mudcats.
Hermida and Tucker are a decent package for Pittsburgh, which did not receive a strong enough offer from the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay was not willing to part with a high-level prospect, such as Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson, in exchange for Bay. Still, according to Gammons, they are still not satisfied with the proposal on their end, potentially stopping this deal from going down.
The Red Sox are going to have a tough time replacing Ramirez’s bat, but will attempt to fill the hole with Bay, who is batting .282/.375/.519 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs. The All-Star left fielder, who will become a free agent in 2009, is enjoying a nice comeback from an injury-plagued '07 season in which he posted a .745 OPS. He is a gamer with an excellent attitude as well, traits which fit in with the Boston mindset and were lost on Ramirez, who also drew the ire of management when he shoved the team traveling secretary. Bay certainly does not have the track record of the Future Hall of Famer, but has actually posted the higher OPS (.929) of the pair to this point.
Grabow is an excellent left-handed reliever when he works ahead of hitters and his command is on. He has been effective out of the Pirates’ bullpen again so far, posting a 3.19 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 53.2 innings pitched. He will provide a nice upgrade in the pen for Boston, which has seen its relievers struggle in the link to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
The trade is being held up over a prospect on the Pirates’ side, but is likely to happen. It will certainly have an impact on the American League and National League East races, though, if the commissioner signs off on the deal and Ramirez waives his no trade clause. Each of these factors have yet to occur.
The Red Sox, who dropped to three games back with a loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday, will address a major need to its lack of relief pitching depth. Still, they will lose one of their most productive hitters in Ramirez, who will be a nice addition to the middle of the Marlins’ lineup alongside Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla.
1:00 AM Update: According to Ken Rosenthal, the Marlins are not willing to part ways with Tucker or Michael Stanton, a Class A outfielder who has hit 27 home runs and has posted a .928 OPS in the Sally League. The deal is a long way from happening, he says. Considering that there have been numerous players mentioned in possible scenarios, it will be interesting to see what the actual packages entail.