- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2003

NEW YORK — The Alex Rodriguez trade is “dead,” or so the Boston Red Sox say. The Texas Rangers and the shortstop still have hope.

Just hours after commissioner Bud Selig ended talks to restructure A-Rod’s $252million contract yesterday, the Red Sox said Manny Ramirez would not be dealt to Texas for American League MVP Rodriguez.

“The proposed trade between the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers is dead,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said.

The Rangers, though, believed they could rekindle the swap of the two highest-paid players in baseball.

“There is a likelihood the deal is dead,” Texas general manager John Hart said. “But at the same time, we haven’t issued a statement that it’s completely dead.”

Rodriguez offered to reduce salaries in his contract by $12million in exchange for increased marketing and logo use rights, agent Scott Boras said.

The proposal from the Red Sox that the players association rejected a day earlier would have cost Rodriguez $28million, according to the team’s evaluation, and $30million, according to the union’s analysis, Boras said.

“We’re going to be in communication with the Rangers as to their discussions with the Red Sox,” Boras said. “Every indication we had was that the parties would continue to talk.”

Rangers owner Tom Hicks probably will speak to the Red Sox to try to work out an agreement after all, Hart said.

Selig had set a 5 p.m. deadline for an agreement. It passed without a deal, and the commissioner ended the talks between Rodriguez and Boston.

“The players association’s intransigence and the arbitrary nature of its action are responsible for the deal’s demise today,” Lucchino said.

After Rodriguez and Boston reached an agreement Wednesday, the union refused it, saying it reduced the value of the contract, the highest in professional sports history.

“It’s unfortunate that the players association felt it necessary to take a legal position which prevented the player and at least two teams from effectuating an agreement that they felt was beneficial,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer.

While management’s top labor lawyer had hinted that Selig might approve the rejected deal, Rodriguez made clear yesterday morning he would go to Boston only with an agreement that met the union’s approval. Because Rodriguez has a no-trade clause, a deal can’t happen without his approval.

“In the spirit of cooperation, I advised the Red Sox I am willing to restructure my contract but only within the guidelines prescribed by union officials,” Rodriguez said in a statement he read to the Associated Press during a telephone call. “I recognize the principle involved and fully support the need to protect the interests of my fellow players. If my transfer to the Red Sox is to occur, it must be done with consideration of the interests of all major league players, not just one.”

Wednesday’s talks were held in New York, but yesterday’s negotiations were done by telephone. Union official Gene Orza and management lawyer Rob Manfred traveled to Florida for Bubba Trammell’s grievance hearing, which was settled yesterday.

If the blockbuster deal had gone through, Boston probably would have traded longtime shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, possibly to the Chicago White Sox.

Boston manager Terry Francona was prepared to start the season with Garciaparra and Ramirez.

“To me, how lucky of a manager am I to have those two guys,” Francona said. “That’s a lot of RBIs out there. … I know this thing has gotten a lot of focus, but I choose to focus on the players I have.”

Rodriguez is owed $179million over seven years under the contract and Ramirez $97.5million over five years.

Boras said Rodriguez’s proposal for a $12million cut was made Wednesday night. Boras spoke with Boston general manager Theo Epstein several times yesterday.

According to Boras, Epstein said the Red Sox “needed more, this needed further discussion with Texas. It was not something that would bring the deal to conclusion.”

Epstein, Lucchino and Boston owner John Henry did not respond to e-mail messages.

Hart wasn’t sure what would happen next, saying Texas was prepared to start the season with Rodriguez. He was asked how long the Rangers would wait to see whether the trade comes together.

“I think until it dies or goes away,” he said. “This has been post-World Series until Dec.18 … At some point, it is time to move on.”

AP sports writers Howard Ulman in Boston and Stephen Hawkins in Dallas contributed to this article.


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