It’s that time of year again!
Time for every sportswriter in the country to open up that old word file, change the dates and team names, and perhaps add another clause about how sure they are:
Manny About To Be Traded. For Reals This Time. I Mean Seriously. It’s Definitely Gonna Happen. Oh And Also, This Time A Real Wolf Is Really Eating Our Sheep.
But I wouldn’t be following the rules if I didn’t say it: looks like it’s really going to happen this year.
All sources indicate that the Red Sox are definitely going to sign JD Drew to a ridiculous contract, and then definitely trade Manny, perhaps even as soon as this weekend. This will free up money to sign Matsuzaka and Julio Lugo, plus any team that wants Manny will almost certainly have to take on one of the Red Sox’ bad contracts – at least Matt Clement, possibly Mike Lowell, and maybe even both.
As of right now, the Giants look to be the front runners because they have pushed hardest for a Manny deal to try to fill the gaping hole left by Moises Alou and possibly Barry Bonds as well, but what no one can figure out is, who in the relatively prospect-free Giants system could be worth Manny Ramirez? Hence, much talk of a three team trade. Another good option seems to be the Dodgers, who need to replace the selfsame JD Drew, and were sorely in need of another big bat even when they had Drew, and are loaded with hot prospects to trade. The Padres, Astros, and Rangers also seem to be in the hunt.
Here are a few ways the long-awaited Manny trade might go down, in approximate order of likelihood:
1. Manny and Matt Clement to the Giants for P Brad Hennesey, P Jonathan Sanchez, P Billy Sadler, and 2B Kevin Frandsen
The Sox get a replacement for Mark Loretta who is known for his on-base percentage (they love that), and the Giants give up just about every pitching prospect they have in their relatively barren cupboard. This would probably spell the end of the Barry Bonds era in San Fran, although the Giants could conceivably bring Bonds back and play Manny in right.
2. Manny, Matt Clement, and Mike Lowell to the Dodgers for SP Chad Billingsley, CF Matt Kemp, and 3B Andy LaRoche
Ned Colletti loves big names and hates giving any of his hot prospects a chance, so this deal will make perfect sense in his mind. Billingsley’s spot in the rotation is on thin ice now that the Dodgers have signed Randy Wolf, super-prospect Matt Kemp is blocked for 5 years by the ridiculous contract Coletti gave to Juan Pierre, and Colletti seems dead set on never ever giving Andy LaRoche, who is perhaps the best third base prospect in the game, a chance to play on the Dodgers (e.g. signing Bill Mueller, trading for Wilson Betemit, talking about playing Nomar or Kent at third, exploring a trade for Beltre, etc.).
3. Manny to the Padres for RP Scott Linebrink, RP Jon Adkins, and SP Tim Stauffer
The Padres have room to take on Manny’s salary, and the Red Sox would make this deal in a second - for some reason Theo and Co. have been obsessed with Scott Linebrink for years.
4. Manny and Mike Lowell to the Astros for CL Brad Lidge, 3B Morgan Ensberg, and 2B Chris Burke
This would be a great trade for both teams, which is why I’m pretty sure it won’t happen. The Astros have been looking to move Lidge and Ensberg, and the Red Sox would fill holes at second base and closer.
5. Manny to the Rangers for SS Michael Young
I don’t see why the Rangers would do this, but it keeps getting mentioned. This would be a great deal for the Sox.