Manny says he'd approve a trade
If right deal comes along, left fielder won't stop Red Sox
BOSTON -- With Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline looming, Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez said on Sunday that he would waive his 10-5 rights (10 years in the Major Leagues, five with one team) if the club finds a suitable deal for him on the open market.
"What I said was, if the Red Sox, if they think they could find a trade, you know, that's going to make their team better and both sides are going to be happy, I'm going to agree," Ramirez said.
And what if there is no sufficient deal?
"But if they cannot find that trade, it's something simple," Ramirez said. "It's no big deal. At the end of the season, all they've got to do is call my agent and tell him, 'Hey, we're not going to pick up Manny's option for '09. He's going to become a free agent and that's it. I'll go my way, and you guys go your way.' It's something simple."
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has explored trades for Ramirez in the past -- both during the season and in the offseason -- but he has never been able to find anything close to equal value for one of the finest sluggers of this generation. That figures to be an obstacle again if the Red Sox do wind up soliciting offers for their cleanup man in the next few days.
The club did not think it was appropriate to respond to Ramirez's comments or to divulge its strategy heading into the Trade Deadline.
"We are concentrating on one thing -- a playoff spot," Red Sox owner John W. Henry wrote in an e-mail.
"We will have no further comment about this situation on the record or off the record," said Epstein. "Our focus is on this team -- which is in the middle of a pennant race -- and in any case it would be premature to comment now on an offseason contractual issue."
Though Ramirez has certainly had plenty of highs and lows during his near eight seasons in Boston, he indicated that closure is probably the best thing for both sides at the end of 2008. The Red Sox hold $20 million club options for Ramirez for 2009 and '10.
"I know they've got me, but hey, enough is enough," Ramirez said. "I'm tired of them, they're tired of me. After 2008, just send me a letter or whatever, you don't even have to call my agent or whatever, 'Thank you for everything, you're going to become a free agent, we're not going to pick up your option in '09.'"
Ramirez doesn't seem to expect that the Red Sox will pick up his option in November.
"That's not going to happen, they're not stupid," Ramirez said.
With the Red Sox fighting for their third World Series championship in five seasons, Ramirez also doesn't think that he'll be traded this week.
"Boston is not stupid," Ramirez said. "They're not going to do it. They can say whatever they want. But when it comes to make a deal, they're not going to pull the trigger because they know what they've got here."
Is Ramirez happy with the Red Sox?
"I'm happy," Ramirez said. "But enough is enough, you know?"
What does enough is enough mean?
"That's it," Ramirez said. "You've got to ask Theo and John Henry, they know."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Ramirez hadn't mentioned anything to him about wanting to be traded or being willing to veto his no-trade rights.
Ramirez was even more expansive about his willingness to accept a trade in a phone interview with ESPN Deportes.
"If the Red Sox are a better team without Manny Ramirez, they should trade me; I will not object," Ramirez said. "I don't have any preferences. I could choose a team that offers me the best conditions or one in the chase for the postseason. I don't care where I play, I can even play in Iraq if need be. My job is to play baseball."
The latest Manny being Manny controversy started on Wednesday in Seattle, where the left fielder informed Francona he couldn't play because of right knee soreness. Francona was surprised, informing reporters that the injury hadn't been on any of the team's medical reports in the previous days.
Another storm cloud developed on Friday, when Francona had Ramirez listed in his lineup roughly three hours before the game, only to have Ramirez tell bench coach Brad Mills that he couldn't play.
Shortly thereafter, there was a meeting in Francona's office that included the manager, Epstein, Henry, club chairman Tom Werner, Ramirez and members of the training staff. The Red Sox had Ramirez sent out for an MRI that night on both knees, and the results were negative.
Several media outlets reported that the Red Sox were prepared to hand down disciplinary action to Ramirez -- perhaps even a suspension -- if he still claimed he was unavailable on Saturday. But Ramirez did return to the lineup that day, and he was back in there on Sunday night.
While, to a man, almost every Red Sox player has been tight-lipped regarding Ramirez's recent controversy, shortstop Julio Lugo came out and defended his friend on Sunday.
"I've been here for two years, and I think I'm one of the guys who has been as close to Manny as anybody else," said Lugo. "As a friend, I'm going to defend him. He cares so much. He does so much to be ready. He prepares himself. Things distract him."
Lugo believes that Ramirez's knee injury is legitimate.
"If he says it's hurting, it's hurting," Lugo said. "Nobody knows. Sometimes you have tendinitis in your knee and it doesn't show anything. But if you're hurting, you're hurt, you know? I can't say anything. I know Manny. He plays every day. He's been hurt for a while. And they ask me the same thing -- 'Is he hurt?' I say, 'He tells me he's hurting.' I can't tell you he's not hurting. I know he's been hurt for a while. If you ask me, that's what I'm going to tell you. He tells me he's hurt, and I believe him."
Francona doesn't think the issues surrounding Ramirez will be a distraction to the team.
"Our job is to not necessarily have bumps in the road, but to deal with the bumps and move on and be better," Francona said. "I think we've always been able to do that. That's our job."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.