I’ve been listening to WEEI Radio (AM 850) on and off for the last hour, and it seems that one early theme has emerged: it was time for Manny Ramírez to go, but the Red Sox gave up too much.
But did they? I don’t think so. Clearly they weren’t going to get equal value, because the whole world knew that the Sox were trying to dump Ramírez. Even so, they did pretty well — financially, too, despite their agreeing to pay Manny’s salary for the rest of the season.
Let’s start with the money. The Dodgers get Ramírez for free for the final two months of the year, as the Red Sox have agreed to pay the $7 million he’s still owed. Jason Bay makes $7.5 million a year [not quite; see update] and the Sox will have to pay him for the rest of the season, or about $2.5 million. So, in essence, they’re paying $9.5 million to have a left fielder for August and September (and, let’s hope, October). That’s a lot of money.
But turn that around. Bay is under contract for next year — again, at $7.5 million. Up until a few weeks ago, it seemed possible that the Sox would pick up Manny’s option for next year, which would have cost $20 million. Manny turns 37 next May. Bay will be 30. Given that differential, there’s a good chance that Bay will put up numbers as good as Ramírez next year, and at one-third the cost. And the Sox may be able to sign Bay to a long-term contract at far less than they would have paid to keep Manny around.
So the Sox will take a hit for two months this year, but will benefit hugely next year and perhaps beyond.
As for the prospects, well, Craig Hansen has been a monumental bust, and that’s putting it mildly. If he’s ever going to succeed, it’s not going to be here. He needs a fresh start somewhere else. Pittsburgh will be a nice, quiet place for him to develop. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say the Sox were lucky to find a way to get rid of him.
Brandon Moss? He turns 25 in September. Bay was the National League’s Rookie of the Year when he was Moss’ age. Moss might turn into a useful player, but he was never going to be more than a fourth outfielder in Boston. To get a player as good as Bay, you’ve got to give up something other than an aging superstar who’ll walk at the end of the season (and who does the Pirates no good anyway) and a pitcher who is, at best, a reclamation project.
You never know how these things will work out. On paper, though, I’d say this is a good deal with the potential to be better than good.