Boston, Texas deny resumption in trade talks

Updated: January 21, 2004, 11:50 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The trade of Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez was left for dead in mid-December, but a high-ranking baseball official indicated to ESPN's Dan Patrick on Tuesday that the Red Sox and Rangers are resuming talks.

Additionally, Bruce Levine of ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago reported that officials from the Red Sox and Rangers plan to meet this weekend in New York to make another attempt at negotiating a deal.

Dirt on the shirt: A-Rod jersey a hoax
A person who has access to create pages on MLB.com posted a link to the Web site's online shop that offered fans an opportunity to purchase an Alex Rodriguez replica Boston Red Sox jersey for $99.95.

An image of the page appears on Red Sox fan site www.bostondirtdogs.com. and remained posted Wednesday morning. The file containing the A-Rod jersey image was uploaded to bostondirtdogs.com on Friday and was accompanied by the text "Boston Red Sox Alex Rodriguez Replica Home Jersey. Be one of the first to own a jersey customized with the name and number of the newest Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez! $99.95."

A source close to the situation said the link was up for several minutes and the same individual who posted it apparently removed it from MLB.com.

"An authorized person conducted an unauthorized hoax," Jim Gallagher, spokesman for MLB Advanced Media, which runs MLB.com and 30 team Web sites, told ESPN.com. "We take this situation very seriously and we are currently investigating."

MLB.com Advanced Media editor-in-chief Dinn Mann was not available for comment.
-- Darren Rovell, ESPN.com

However, during a media conference call Tuesday afternoon, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, "The report is completely baseless. There are no plans to meet with anyone."

Epstein added: "I was surprised by it. [Owner] John Henry was surprised by it. [President] Larry Lucchino was surprised by it ... It's baseless."

"This weekend, we're all going to New York to watch Alex receive his MVP award. That's it," Rangers owner Tom Hicks told the Fort-Worth Star Telegram.

Scott Boras, Rodriguez's agent, termed the report "wholly unrealistic." Boras said he has "not been advised of any meetings" and such reports are "jumping the gun". According to Boras, there has been "no movement" in the possible trade.

Negotiations that would have sent Rodriguez to Boston, with Ramirez going to Texas, came to a standstill last month after the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposal by the Red Sox to cut $28 million to $30 million off A-Rod's record $252 million contract.

Rodriguez was willing to give up $27 million -- $13 million in givebacks to the Red Sox and $14 million in Massachusetts state income taxes -- in order to be traded to Boston, but the players association would not allow that much reduction in the shortstop's salary.

Instead, the union said it would approve a change that would lower the contract by $12 million to $13 million in exchange for Rodriguez's getting the right to use Boston's logo and trademarks in marketing deals. In addition, he'd be able to become a free agent after the 2005 season.

But Red Sox ownership decided that, even with the $13 million concession, A-Rod was not worth the extra $4 million a year over what Ramirez is set to earn with the team, ESPN's Peter Gammons reported at the time. Rodriguez's average annual salary is approximately $6 million more than Ramirez's, and the concession would have reduced his earnings by only $2 million a year.

Following the decision by the union, Henry, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, Lucchino and Epstein issued a joint statement saying "no further discussions regarding this transaction are planned."

And, at that time, Rodriguez's agent agreed that the talks were finally over.

"Tom Hicks has indicated he would not consider a trade for Alex Rodriguez in the immediate future," Boras said then.

Rodriguez has seven years and $170 million remaining on his deal. Ramirez has five years and $100 million coming to him.

Although the details of this latest round of talks are not yet known, it is reasonable to assume that if Rodriguez did join the Red Sox, Boston would then trade longtime shortstop Nomar Garciappara. In December, it was reported that Garciaparra would be traded to the Chicago White Sox in the event Boston completed a Rodriguez-for-Ramirez deal.

That Boston continues to pursue Rodriguez could complicate an already strained relationship between Garciappara and the Red Sox.

When it appeared imminent A-Rod would make the move to Boston, the Red Sox's Kevin Millar said he looked forward to having Rodriguez at shortstop.

On Sunday, Garciaparra said he held no grudges against Millar or the team, and hadn't been hurt by the team's actions.

"I know baseball is a business. I'm not thinking about it, one way or another," he said. "I've always said there are things in baseball you can control, and things you can't. I'm focusing on what I can control, like getting ready for the upcoming season.

"A lot of [the trade talk] was unfortunate."

Since the Ramirez-Rodriguez deal has appeared dead in recent weeks, Red Sox ownership has tried to assure Garciaparra that he is part of the team's plans beyond the coming season.

However, if attempts to trade for Rodriguez fall through again, it could create a lasting rift between Garciaparra and the Red Sox.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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