07/31/2008 8:54 PM ET
LA lands Manny in three-team deal
Dodgers send LaRoche, Morris to Bucs; Bay goes to Boston
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' seemingly futile search for a slugger has finally ended with, of all people, future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez.
In the most spectacular in-season acquisition in the 50-year history of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ramirez was obtained from the Red Sox on Thursday for third baseman Andy LaRoche and former first-round Draft pick pitcher Bryan Morris, who headed to the Pirates. Jason Bay went from Pittsburgh to Boston, and the Pirates received two prospects from the Red Sox.
Ramirez, a 36-year-old 12-time All-Star and nine-time Silver Slugger, forced Boston to finally deal him in the last week, and he nearly went to the Florida Marlins in a three-team deal with Pittsburgh that would have also brought Bay to the Red Sox.
But that deal unraveled Thursday and the Dodgers were brought into the talks by the Sox only four hours before the Trade Deadline. Without having to move top young outfielder Matt Kemp, the Dodgers augmented their youthful core with the infusion of a feared offensive presence into the middle of the lineup. Ramirez is expected to be in the lineup Friday night.
"We're focused on winning the division and going as deep as we can into October," said Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt. "We want to win right here and right now, and that's why we made this trade."
Ramirez cost nothing financially, as the Red Sox are paying the remaining $7 million of his salary. In exchange for waiving his trade veto rights, the two option years of his contract were voided and he will be eligible for free agency after this season.
"We have one of the better hitters of his generation coming in," said general manager Ned Colletti. "He's a champion and a winner. We couldn't be happier."
Ramirez has 20 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .299 average this season. He has 510 career home runs in 15 Major League seasons, one batting title and has led the American League in slugging percentage three times.
In the process, he's been a longtime nemesis of the Yankees and their former manager, Joe Torre.
"I did everything I could not to see this guy again, and all of a sudden he's showing up in the uniform I'm wearing, and that's really special -- it really is," said Torre, who's in his first season at the Dodgers' helm.
Over the last five seasons, the only defensive position Ramirez has played is left field, which will leave Torre with an outfield crowd of Ramirez, Kemp, Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones and Andre Ethier. Because Ramirez could be gone by the winter, Colletti said he is in no hurry to trade any of them.
"This just came together and we're not good enough to make a corresponding move yet," said Colletti. "We'll figure that out."
Torre, who even with injuries to Jones and Pierre has been challenged with parsing playing time for four outfielders, now has five.
"I don't know what my thinking is right now," said Torre. "Manny obviously will be in the middle of that lineup, and we're just going to have to, as we go along, try to figure it out. I'll probably get the whole team in there together before we break up for our normal meetings, just to sort of give them some thoughts. I really don't know who's going to get impacted the most on this thing."
Ramirez, a Dominican Republic native, is a veteran of nine postseasons, including four World Series. He also played in the 1995 and 1997 Fall Classics with Cleveland. Ramirez is baseball's all-time postseason home run leader with 24, and ranks second with 64 RBIs. Among active players, Ramirez ranks third in RBIs, fifth in home runs, sixth in on-base percentage (.409) and seventh in batting average. He also ranks eighth in baseball history, and second among active players behind only Albert Pujols (.620), with a .590 slugging percentage. He ranks 23rd on baseball's all-time RBI list with 1,672. He has logged at least 100 RBIs in 11 seasons, including nine straight campaigns from 1998-2006.
LaRoche was considered by many to be the best prospect in the Dodgers' organization a year ago, but he's been given several chances to take the starting third-base job the past two years and hasn't hit.
Morris is a right-handed pitcher and former first-round Draft pick who underwent Tommy John elbow ligament reconstruction surgery last year.
Ramirez's acquisition capped roster improvement that was triggered by the serious injury to shortstop Rafael Furcal's back, which forced Colletti to begin the moves June 7, when he acquired former American League Rookie of the Year Angel Berroa from Kansas City for Minor Leaguer Juan Rivera. On July 20, he further bolstered the thin infield by signing free agent Pablo Ozuna, who had been released by the White Sox.
On July 26, with Arizona among the clubs showing interest, Colletti acquired Casey Blake from Cleveland for Minor Leaguers Jon Meloan and Carlos Santana. His desire was to obtain an offensive-minded shortstop, but when he found the cost prohibitive, he broadened the search to include third basemen. Blake entered Thursday 7-for-17 with three doubles and four runs scored since the trade.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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