Red Sox, Rangers say deal off table

Both teams claim trade for Rodriguez is off after latest deadline passes

December 24, 2003|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

It turned out to be much ado about nothing.

The proposed blockbuster trade that would have sent superstar Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers to the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Manny Ramirez is off.

The final deadline set by Rangers owner Tom Hicks passed at 5 p.m. yesterday with no new talks about a deal that had become a national obsession over the past three weeks. Though trade speculation persisted after two previous deadlines had passed, both teams confirmed that the deal is dead.

"It is time for the Texas Rangers to look forward to the 2004 season with Alex Rodriguez as our shortstop and team leader," Hicks told reporters yesterday. "As we explored recent opportunities, we always said he would not be traded unless it made our team better, faster. Alex is the best player in baseball and we are excited to have him as a leader in the clubhouse and on the field."

The Rangers and Red Sox did reach a tentative agreement on the deal last week, but it was contingent on Rodriguez, the Red Sox and the Major League Baseball Players Association agreeing on a plan to restructure the remainder of A-Rod's record $252 million contract. Rodriguez and the Red Sox appeared to reach an accord, but the union rejected the revised contract on Thursday.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who had given permission for the Red Sox to work out a deal with Rodriguez, called a halt to those talks after they exceeded the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline he had placed on the unusual negotiations. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino blasted the union for getting in the way of a deal that appeared to be agreeable to all parties, then declared that the on-again, off-again negotiations were over.

The Rangers, however, left open the possibility of resuming talks until Hicks decided that the issue needed to be settled one way or the other to allow the club to focus on other opportunities to reconfigure the team for the 2004 season. Hicks' deadline passed without any apparent attempt to resurrect the deal.

Red Sox owner John Henry and other top management officials released a statement yesterday indicating that the team would no longer pursue a trade for Rodriguez. A-Rod's agent, Scott Boras, told the Associated Press that he had been informed that the Rangers would no longer consider a trade for Rodriguez.

Though several major player transactions took place over the past few weeks, the Rodriguez negotiations clearly had an effect on player movement during what usually is the most active part of the offseason.

The end of the negotiations doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be more fallout from the Red Sox attempt to acquire Rodriguez. The club was rumored to have a deal in place to send popular shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox to make room for A-Rod on the Boston infield.

Now, the Red Sox face the uncomfortable prospect of Garciaparra and Ramirez reporting to spring training unhappy with the way they were shopped around during the winter.

It still is possible that Garciaparra will be dealt before he enters the final year of his contract, since he may choose to leave as a free agent at the end of next season.

There appears to be little likelihood that the Red Sox will make another attempt to deal the troublesome Ramirez, but only because his $20 million annual salary makes him virtually impossible to move.

The Rangers insist that the trade talks will not have a negative impact on the team in 2004, though it was obvious that A-Rod would have preferred to jump to the more competitive Red Sox.

"Alex wants to compete in the postseason, but he also wants to help Texas be a champion and be a part of what we are doing here," Hicks said. "From our conversations, I know he loves Texas and he's happy being here."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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