Embattled Boston Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Thursday's trade deadline in a three-way swap involving the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Boston will pay the estimated $7 million US owed to Ramirez through season's end, in the final year of his eight-year, $160-million US contract.
The Red Sox held $20-million US options for 2009 and 2010, but they were eliminated in the trade, meaning Ramirez can test the free-agent market next season.
"It was something that happened very quickly," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
"[Red Sox general manager] Theo [Epstein] reached out to me in mid-morning and wanted to gauge our interest and I said, 'You know what? We have an interest,'" Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said. "Then, we probably spent the next two-plus hours hammering it out, so this was not on the boards for very long."
Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., is headed to the Red Sox, where he will replace Ramirez in left field.
"It is bitter sweet to part with Jason Bay," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said. "[But] the trade helps us accelerate the rebuilding process."
The Pirates, trailing the pack in the National League East and seeking to stockpile young talent, received minor-league prospects Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen.
"One, two, three, four, five years from now, it should be self-explanatory," Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. "Right now, it is a shock.
"You never have enough talent. We felt we had the right deal and moved on it."
'Not a simple personality'
Ramirez, a 12-time all-star but a player who walks to the beat of his own drum, enjoyed a productive yet turbulent tenure with the Red Sox.
Ramirez was voted the most valuable player in the 2004 World Series as Boston ended an 86-year championship drought, but he demanded to be traded in 2005 and 2006 and, ultimately, talked his way out of town last week.
Ramirez, 36, reached the point of no return with the Red Sox on Sunday, when he said: "I'm tired of them. They're tired of me."
The final straw likely came Wednesday night, when he said in a radio interview with ESPNdeportes.com: "The Red Sox do not deserve a player like me. During my years here, I have seen how they have mistreated other great players when they did not want them, to try to turn the fans against them."
"The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me," Ramirez said. "Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy.
"I love Boston fans. But the Red Sox do not deserve me.
"I'm not talking about money. Mental peace has no price and I do not have peace here."
Asked what he thought of Ramirez's antics, Torre noted: "Manny is certainly not a simple personality, that's for sure. He is complex, but I have seen when he competes."
"Manny being Manny can also mean he will hit a lot of home runs and drive in a lot of runs," Colletti said.
'We figured we had to do it'
Ramirez, one of the most formidable hitters in major-league history, is averaging .299 with 20 home runs, 22 doubles, 68 runs batted in and 66 runs scored in 100 games this season.
The Dominican native is a career .312 hitter with 510 HRs and 1,672 RBIs and 1,408 runs in 2,050 games over 16 MLB seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Red Sox.
He is one of eight players to hit at least 20 homers over 14 consecutive seasons.
"When a player like Manny becomes available, I don't think there is a manager in baseball who would not say they're interested," Torre said.
"We figured we had to do it," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "There was, obviously, a point in time that you have to make a major decision.
"We did and we were glad we did it. Hopefully, it pays dividends. We're confident we have got one of the best hitters in baseball coming in here — one of the best hitters of his generation from the right side."
Bay's power numbers this season rival those of Ramirez — 22 home runs, 23 doubles, 64 runs batted in and 72 runs scored — but he is in just his sixth season, and affordable at $7.5 million US next season.
Bay, 29, is a .281 hitter with 140 HRs, 454 RBIs and 437 runs in 722 games since breaking into the majors with the San Diego Padres on May 23, 2003.