If this had happened, it would have been scary: According to Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci of SI.com, the Red Sox made a play for Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez last week after losing out on Mark Teixeira. If you remember, and I’m sure most of you do, the Red Sox traded Ramirez — along with Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, and Harvey Garcia — to the Marlins in the winter of 2005 for Josh Beckett and what was thought to be Mike Lowell’s salary. Both teams got what they wanted out of the deal, but now it appears Boston wants to trade Florida more players it can trade back for in three years.
I know some of you are thinking it, and I’m sure someone has said it in the comments section at MLBTR, but it’s not what you think. This is not Boston retaliating. Signing Carl Pavano and trading for Randy Johnson? Retaliation for 2004. Bidding 27 freaking million dollars on Kei Igawa? Retaliation for Daisuke Matsuzaka (or at least one could make the argument). Attempting a trade for Hanley Ramirez? Not retaliation for the Yankees nabbing Teixeira.
By making a play for Teixeira, Boston attempted to upgrade their offense. They saw a number of question marks with players like David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, J.D. Drew, and whomever is going to catch, so they sought a reliable bat to go along with Dustin Pedroia, Jason Bay, and Kevin Youkilis. Unfortunately for them, the Yankees also saw question marks: Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher. They sought a reliable bat to go along with Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. They paid the premium and solidified the lineup. That doesn’t change Boston’s plans, though.
Maybe, just maybe there’s a hint of retaliation in this, in that the Red Sox realize that not only do they have the same number of question marks as before, but that the Yankees have one fewer. The pressure is then greater, I suppose, to add that reliable bat and keep pace. I’m sure that the Red Sox don’t think like that, though. They wanted a bat before, and they still want a bat. After missing out on the top free agent on the market, they turned to the best player on a team that’s always willing to listen. Apparently they didn’t get far, but considering the player that’s to be expected. Not only is Hanley the best offensive shortstop in the majors, but the Marlins just signed him to a long-term deal this past May. He doesn’t get expensive until 2012 — perhaps 2011 if you’re the Marlins, which they indeed are.
As Heyman and Verducci noted, it would have taken an overwhelming offer to get the Marlins to budge. Specifically mentioned were Jacoby Elsbury and Clay Buchholz, plus others. I’m guessing Lars Anderson’s name came up. And why wouldn’t it? The Marlins have this guy for $5.5 million in 2009 and $7 million 2010. Considering Ryan Howard’s first-year arbitration salary, it could have been a lot worse. So why not hold onto him while he’s cheap and trade him away when he makes $11 million in 2011? He’ll only be 27 at that point. And then maybe he’ll become someone who toils in relevancy for a 90-win team.
This shows that the Red Sox aren’t going to quit their pursuit of run production just because they missed out on Teixeira. They have a strong farm system that could fetch them a number of capable major league players. The question is, how much are they willing to give up?