Boston methodical in assessing options

Updated: November 10, 2005, 12:27 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- As the Red Sox interviewed the first three candidates to replace departed general manager Theo Epstein, Boston acknowledged that it will explore trading All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez.

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Washington general manager Jim Bowden, Minnesota assistant GM Wayne Krivsky and Atlanta assistant GM Dayton Moore interviewed with Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino at a hotel near the annual general managers' meetings.

The pair also met with Ramirez's agent, Greg Genske, and are scheduled to speak Friday in Boston with former Baltimore executive vice president Jim Beattie. Cleveland assistant GM Chris Antonetti turned down a chance to interview with the Red Sox.

Ramirez's desire to be traded is complicated by his status as a 10-and-5 player -- a 10-year veteran who has been with the same team for five years. He cannot be dealt without his permission, so he can limit Boston's trading partners.

"There needs to be some give and take, or some exchange of preferences and places," Lucchino said Wednesday night. "So, obviously we have to work together, and we told him we would be willing to explore that. He needs to give us some guidance."

Ramirez is owed $19 million in 2006, $18 million in 2007 and $20 million in 2008, the final three guaranteed seasons of the $160 million, eight-year deal he agreed to with Boston before the 2001 season. He generally does not speak with reporters, but the Red Sox are aware of why he wants the team to explore a trade.

"It has something to do with the comfort level he has in Boston, the city of Boston," Lucchino said. "I think it goes back to the basic decision to come here, when he made that decision. It goes back that far."

Werner said a trade isn't a given.

"We'll explore it. I wouldn't be surprised if we conclude that it's best for the Boston Red Sox to retain his services," he said. "We are sensitive to his desires but we'll end up doing what we think is in the best interest of the club."

As for the GM search, Boston wants to hire a replacement by the winter meetings, scheduled for Dec. 5-8.

"You really should go to the winter meetings armed to do business," Lucchino said.

Epstein helped put together the 2004 Red Sox team that won the franchise's first World Series title since 1918. He departed when his contract expired Oct. 31, after he and Lucchino were unable to reach a new agreement.

Sitting at a round table and wearing his World Series ring during a 30-minute group interview, Lucchino rejected assertions that his role as Epstein's mentor played a key role in Epstein's departure.

"We really didn't talk very much about that kind of issue or that kind of relationship," he said. "We were together for 14 years in various capacities in three different cities. I think it would be presumptuous of me to think of myself as his mentor. I was someone who was smart enough to hire him and to advance him."

Werner batted down the notion that Boston still might reach a deal with Epstein.

"We have heard the rumors but we completely discount them," he said.

Lucchino repeatedly said the Red Sox want to move ahead from the Epstein era.

"His departure does not terminate the history of the club," he said.

Bowden, the most experienced of the candidates interviewed Wednesday, agreed in October to a six-month contract extension through April with the Nationals, who are owned by the other 29 clubs and are up for sale. Bowden was born in Boston and said "it's always been a dream job" to join the Red Sox.

"I thought it went very well," Bowden said. "Obviously, both are highly intelligent people. They were very well prepared and asked good questions."

Bowden said that if he got the job, he wouldn't view it as replacing Epstein.

"It's more like I'd take the baton and keep on going," he said.

Bowden was Cincinnati's general manager from 1992-03, then moved to the Montreal Expos/Nationals when Omar Minaya left after the 2004 season to become GM of the New York Mets.

Red Sox officials met with the agent for CF Johnny Damon, who became a free agent, "to explore parameters of a deal," Lucchino said. ... Lucchino was disappointed that the timing of Epstein's departure came only a few days after Boston assistant GM Josh Byrnes left to become general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Byrnes would have been considered to replace Epstein. "He wanted to be a general manager and this opportunity was right there teed up for him."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press