Ken Rosenthal / FOXSports.com
Posted: 19 minutes ago
While the agent for Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez says that Ramirez remains open to a trade, the Orioles instead could deal shortstop Miguel Tejada for Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu, FOXSports.com has learned.
The Phillies have proposed an Abreu-for-Tejada exchange with the intention of playing Tejada at third base. The Orioles want pitching in addition to Abreu, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, raising the possibility of an expanded deal.
Meanwhile, Ramirez's agent, Greg Genske, told FOXSports.com Thursday night that Ramirez would consider waiving his no-trade clause for the Orioles or another team, discounting Ramirez's statement to ESPNDeportes.com that he was "staying in Boston."
The Tejada-for-Ramirez talks, while stalled, are not dead, sources say. The same is true of the talks between the Cubs and Orioles regarding Tejada, which also are stalemated but could revive quickly. Other teams, such as the Angels and Tigers, also could be in the mix.
The latest intrigue over Ramirez comes after he told ESPNDeportes.com, "There will be no trade. I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz."
Genske, however, said he called Ramirez after learning of the slugger's remarks, and Ramirez denied making the comments.
"If Boston is able to work out a trade with Baltimore or another team, Manny is still open to making a move," Genske said.
The Orioles reportedly have rejected the Red Sox's offer of Ramirez and right-hander Matt Clement for Tejada, seeking additional pitching or third-base prospect Andy Marte in the deal.
If the Phillies acquired Tejada, they would gain the option of flipping him for a top-of-the-rotation starter, either in a three-way trade or separate deal; the Cubs, for example, have shown a willingness to trade right-hander Mark Prior for Tejada, but not Abreu. However, the Cubs would want a starting pitcher back for Prior — they've asked the Orioles for left-hander Erik Bedard - and the Phillies probably lack the depth to make that type of move.
Abreu, who turns 32 in March, is not as accomplished a hitter as Ramirez, but he's less expensive, less controversial and two years younger. In addition, the Orioles almost certainly would prefer to trade Tejada to a club outside of their division rather than the Red Sox.
After losing free-agent outfielder Jeromy Burnitz to the Pirates, the Orioles' outfield currently consists of Jay Gibbons, Luis Matos and Jeff Conine. If they traded Tejada for Abreu or Ramirez, they could make a separate deal for another shortstop or sign a free agent such as Alex Gonzalez.
For the Phillies, Tejada would represent a major upgrade at third over David Bell, who is signed for next season at $4.5 million and perhaps could be traded for a comparably priced outfielder. Tejada, who turns 30 on May 25, has only played shortstop during his nine-year major-league career. However, Tejada is pushing for a trade to a contender, and Alex Rodriguez agreed to move from short to third when he wanted to leave the Rangers for the Yankees.
Earlier this off-season, the Phillies sought to trade Abreu for a top starting pitcher, inquiring about Prior, Bedard and Dodgers' Derek Lowe, among others. The Phillies never obtained the pitcher they wanted, but did sign free-agent right-hander Ryan Franklin to a one-year, $2.6 million contract on Thursday. They continue to search for either another starter or setup man, which could make it difficult for them to include pitching in any trade with the Orioles.
Like Ramirez, Abreu has the right to reject any trade. He is guaranteed $28 million over the next two seasons, plus a $2 million buyout for 2008 if his $16 million option is not exercised. The Orioles' roster includes three other native Venezuelans - third baseman Melvin Mora, catcher Ramon Hernandez and reliever Jorge Julio. But Abreu could require that the Orioles to pick up his '08 option before he would approve a trade.
Ramirez is guaranteed $57 million over the next three years, and his contract also includes two option years, each worth $20 million. He, too, could insist that the Orioles or another team effectively extend his contract. A deal involving either Abreu or Ramirez almost certainly would necessitate the opening of a 72-hour negotiating window to resolve such issues.
Another obstacle to consider: Abreu, Ramirez and Tejada would gain the right to demand a trade at the end of next season if they were dealt in the middle of multi-year contracts. A player who makes such a demand can become a free agent if his request is not met by the following March 15, though players rarely are willing to take that step and forfeit their remaining salary. The Diamondbacks traded pitcher Javier Vazquez to the White Sox after he filed a trade demand in November.