In a move reminiscent of the trade that sent former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs just before the 2004 trading deadline, Boston made a three-way trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers that sent future Baseball Hall of Fame slugger Manny Ramirez out west to join Garciaparra and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre in L.A., while the Sox received Jason Bay from Pittsburgh in exchange for outfielder Brandon Moss and reliever Craig Hansen. The Pirates also received two players from the Dodgers to complete the deal, third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris.
Ramirez, who earlier this season hit career home run number 500 to become just the third player to reach that mark in a Boston uniform, had recently and publicly voiced his unhappiness with team management for failing to pick up his option for the 2009 season; he had even offered to waive his option to void the trade as a 10/5 player (ten years in the league, five years with the same club). In the end, the Red Sox decided that it was better to part ways with the disgruntled slugger, who was batting .299 with 20 home runs and 68 RBI through action on Wednesday; in return, they get the 29-year-old Bay, who was batting .282 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI to this point in the season with the Pirates. Bay is expected to join the club in time for the opener of a three-game weekend series with the Oakland Athletics beginning Friday night at Fenway Park and will play left field in front of the Green Monster where Ramirez stood for many years.
Despite the ugly departure of the eight-time Boston All-Star, Ramirez will be remembered as one of the greatest right-handed batters in club history. Over seven-plus seasons, the eccentric flycatcher hit 274 home runs, which currently places him fifth all-time amongst Boston sluggers past and present, at an amazing rate of 14.4 at-bats per home run. His other numbers with the club speak for themselves; amongst franchise career leaders, he ranks ninth all-time in batting average (.312), sixth in runs batted in (868), fifth in on-base percentage (.411), and fourth in slugging percentage (.588). The respect opposing pitchers had for Ramirez also had a hand in building the career of David Ortiz; after a sub-par start to his career in Minnesota, Ortiz joined the Red Sox in 2003 and, with the perennial All-Star hitting behind him, developed into one of the most feared left-handed power hitters in the game. Eventually, the two sluggers became one of the greatest one-two punches in recorded baseball history, hitting a combined total of 422 home runs in five-plus seasons together; the two also combined over 40 times for home runs in the same game, the most by two teammates over that span.
Notably, Ramirez was at his best when it counted most for the Sox: the post-season. In 165 at-bats over nine playoff series, he batted .321, averaging .375 or better four times, hit 11 home runs, drove home 36 runs, and even won World Series MVP honors in the 2004 Fall Classic batting .412 with a home run and four RBI. In part due to his efforts, the Red Sox won two world championships in four years after the team went 86 years between titles.