11/25/05 12:13 AM EST
Beckett, Lowell officially dealt to Boston
Florida receives four prospects; Mota also sent to Red Sox
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
Only now, there are some new names added into the mix.
The Marlins included reliever Guillermo Mota along with star pitcher Beckett and three-time All-Star third baseman Mike Lowell. In exchange, the Marlins receive talented Minor League shortstop Hanley Ramirez and standout pitching prospects Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia.
Mota and Garcia were not originally part of the trade.
Beckett, the 2003 World Series MVP, comes off his best regular season, going 15-8 with a 3.37 ERA in 29 starts. The deal was held up a bit because the Red Sox were concerned about the health of Beckett's shoulder, which experienced tendinitis in September. Twice in October, the hard-throwing right-hander had MRIs as he was examined by orthopedic surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, in Birmingham, Ala.
The deal was consummated shortly before 10:30 p.m. ET, with general manager Larry Beinfest telephoning the now former Marlins players.
"It's an exciting time getting to go to Boston to play," said Beckett, who organized a conference call with the Marlins beat writers immediately after being notified of the trade. "I had a Boston hat growing up and I'm from Texas."
A native of Spring, Texas, Beckett was a huge Roger Clemens fan from the days the legendary right-hander was in Boston.
The financially-strapped Marlins made two major trades Thanksgiving evening. A few hours before the trade with Boston was finalized, the club officially dealt slugger Carlos Delgado to the Mets for first baseman Mike Jacobs and two Minor Leaguers.
"This is following through on the market correction and a lot of mixed emotions," Beinfest said. "We had players who were with us in '03 who helped us win a championship. It's a business, but we've had a lot of history with a lot of these guys. The recognition of what they've done is not going to be lost, but the reality of the situation is the reality of the situation."
More high-priced players also are expected to be moved as the Marlins' payroll is expected to drop from the franchise-record $65 million in 2005 to perhaps below $40 million. Juan Pierre, Paul Lo Duca and Luis Castillo are all candidates to be dealt.
It's been a hectic week for the Marlins, who on Tuesday were granted permission by Major League Baseball to explore relocation.
Beckett expressed his sadness that the organization may eventually leave South Florida.
"Certainly 2003 will stick out forever," said Beckett, who closed out the Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series with a complete-game performance. "That and just the climb up to get to 2003."
Asked about the Marlins perhaps having to relocating, Beckett added: "It's going to be weird to have a ring and the name and emblem of a team on it that doesn't exist any more."
Pausing, Beckett said he guesses there are members of the old Baltimore Colts NFL title teams with similar feelings.
Beckett said he understands why the Marlins are doing what they are doing, calling it the right thing to do.
The wheeling and dealing created a long night for Beinfest, who was working on trade details as he was eating.
"In the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, I signed off on the final letter agreement on the Mets," Beinfest said. "I hadn't quite got to dessert yet -- which is unusual for me -- when the Boston deal was done. I'm going to eat leftovers."
Beckett said he wasn't surprised the Red Sox closely examined his medical records, and said he hasn't been asked to take a physical, although he wouldn't be surprised if he is asked. The process involved Marlins team physician Dr. Dan Kanell and team trainer Sean Cunningham.
Asked about his shoulder, Beckett says he doesn't think it is an issue.
"Personally, I don't think it is," he said. "My last start was one of my best velocity-wise of the season."
Beckett's fastball regularly is in the 95-97 mph range, and he was reaching that while tossing seven shutout innings against the Braves on Sept. 23.
Over the last few seasons, Beckett and Lowell experienced some of the lows and highs in Marlins' history.
Two of the organizations most popular players ever, they played instrumental roles in the club rising from perennial losers to World Series champions in 2003. They've also been staples in the franchise-high three straight winning seasons.
Now they are being replaced by a number of gifted prospects, many of whom will get opportunities to make the club in Spring Training.
Ramirez and Sanchez are highly regarded, considered future stars. To lure them both came at a hefty price, as the Marlins parted with Beckett, who is just reaching his prime at age 25.
Beckett comes off his best season, finishing 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 29 starts. Lowell, a three-time All-Star, is coming off his worst season, where he batted .236 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs. The 31-year-old did win his first Gold Glove in 2005.
Money was a driving force behind trading two popular and productive players. Mota had a down 2005 by his standards. The right-hander opened the season as the closer, but he went on the disabled list in May with elbow inflammation, and when he returned, he was used in a setup role to Todd Jones.
In 56 games, Mota was 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA and two saves.
Beckett became the chip used by the Marlins to rid themselves of the remaining $18 million owed to Lowell for the next two seasons.
Arbitration-eligible the next two seasons, Beckett is in line to make between $4.2 million and $4.7 million in 2006 and about $7.5 million in 2007. The right-hander will not qualify for free agency until after the 2007 season.
The biggest drawback regarding Beckett are injuries. Nine times since his rookie season of 2002, the right-hander has been on the disabled list. Seven of those stints were blister-related.
The Marlins spoke to a minimum of six teams regarding Beckett before Boston was able to finalize the deal. The Rangers aggressively pursued Beckett and were offering All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock and a top Minor League pitcher. The Marlins gave it serious consideration but Blalock's contract, $13.5 million over the next three seasons, was part of the reason the trade never went through.
While the trade shapes up to immediately bolster the Red Sox, the Marlins may not see a strong return for a few more years.
But considering the Marlins had to part with established players, at least one Major League scout feels Florida made a great trade under trying circumstances.
"In a perfect world, you would never trade a Josh Beckett," said the scout, who asked that his name not be revealed. "But Ramirez is a five-tool guy. They are rare. And for a Josh Beckett, that's what you should be getting back, an All-Star caliber guy, because Josh Beckett is an All-Star caliber guy. Two or three years down the road, Ramirez has a chance to be an All-Star."
The scout says Ramirez has skills to be a similar type of hitter as Red Sox shortstop Edgar Renteria, who ironically was a World Series hero with the Marlins in 1997.
Ramirez, a Dominican Republic native, is a rangy 6-foot-3, 195-pounder who has great range in the field, plus he has speed and the potential to hit for power. He turns 22 in December, and projects to be the Marlins' everyday shortstop in 2006.
The arrival of Ramirez means the Marlins don't feel Robert Andino, who started at shortstop most of September after being called up from Double-A, is ready to be an everyday player.
At Double-A Portland this past season, Ramirez hit .271 with six home runs and 52 RBIs.
Sanchez and Jesus Delgado are both from Maracay, Venezuela, the hometown of Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera.
Sanchez, a 6-foot, 180-pounder from Venezuela, has bounced back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the 2003 season. The 21-year-old split last season with Class A Wilmington and Portland. He combined to go 9-6 with a 2.85 ERA in 136 innings.
Jesus Delgado also has rebounded from Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He recently competed at the Arizona Fall League, with his fastball reportedly being clocked at 97 mph.
Garcia, 21, spent this past season with Class-A Greenville, going 3-5 with a 2.01 ERA and six saves in 32 games.
"These are major steps to get that market correction in order," Beinfest said.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.