Red Sox, Indians explore Crisp trade options

Updated: January 25, 2006, 11:26 AM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

The Red Sox and Indians are trying to restructure the Coco Crisp-to-Boston deal Wednesday, while Cleveland's deal with Philadelphia (Jason Michaels for Arthur Rhodes) was described as being "in a holding pattern," according to a source involved in those discussions.

The Indians' position for weeks has been that they couldn't trade either Crisp or Rhodes without getting big-league replacements. So when Guillermo Mota failed his physical in Cleveland on Tuesday, it endangered both deals.

It's possible the Red Sox could substitute a reliever (perhaps highly regarded prospect Manny Delcarmen), which would allow both trades to take place basically as previously devised. But sources said that the Indians always preferred Reds outfielder Austin Kearns to Michaels.

So it's also possible that, with the firing of Reds GM Dan O'Brien, the Indians and Red Sox will attempt to revive their much-discussed three-way trade with Cincinnati that would have sent Kearns to Cleveland, Crisp to Boston and Matt Clement to Cincinnati. It was O'Brien who killed the most recent version of that one last week.

The Phillies, meanwhile, preferred reliever Rafael Betancourt to Rhodes. But Cleveland hasn't been willing to give up Betancourt.

If Michaels does go to Cleveland, rookie Shane Victorino would become the Phillies' primary extra outfielder. And the team then would attempt to trade for a fifth outfielder in spring training.

The Phillies continue to have "back-burner interest" in free agent Mike Piazza. But Piazza prefers a job either in the American League or in California -- and preferably both. The Padres have been showing at least mild interest over the last two weeks. So they would appear to be Piazza's most likely NL destination.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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