It's not hard to tell when Manny's unhappy. And a year and a half ago, Manny had had enough. He wanted out of Boston and it wasn't long before he pushed the team's traveling secretary over and told ESPNDeportes "the Red Sox don't deserve a player like me."
So it was hardly surprising that Theo Epstein dealt Manny Ramirez on July 31st, 2008. But it looked as though Manny was headed to the Marlins, so when the Dodgers acquired him in a three-way deal, it was a surprise. The blockbuster was unexpected for a number of reasons; Jason Bay, who would replace Ramirez in front of the Green Monster, was supposed to be headed to the Rays.
Happy or not, Manny was in the midst of a typically productive season when the Red Sox sent him to Hollywood – he was hitting .299/.398/.529 with 20 homers. As Joe Torre told USA Today at the time, it's hard to resist a player like Manny.
"I don't think there's a manager in baseball who wouldn't say they're interested," Torre said.
The Dodgers' interest paid off. Manny finished the year on a tear, hitting close to .400 and reaching base in almost half his plate appearances en route to a 1.232 OPS in the National League.
Jason Bay didn't match those numbers in Boston – who could? – but his OPS approached .900 and the Red Sox made the playoffs. Perhaps most importantly, the Red Sox had a left fielder who could produce without distracting those around him. As a bonus, the Red Sox had Bay under control for just $7.5MM in 2009, whereas Ramirez was set to explore free agency.
Another coup for the Red Sox, but the deal could hardly have worked out better for Ned Colletti's Dodgers. The Red Sox paid Manny the $7MM remaining on his deal as he dominated the NL and charmed Dodgers fans in the process. From the homers, to the jerseys to the wigs, Mannywood took over Chavez Ravine.
Meanwhile, the Pirates acquired four players for Bay. GM Neal Huntington obtained Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche from Dodgers and the Red Sox added Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss.
Dejan Kovacevic reported this spring that the Pirates had the chance to obtain Cliff Lee, Franklin Gutierrez and Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for Bay and Ronny Paulino before they sent their left fielder to Boston. That would have been a haul to remember, but the Pirates still obtained value for Bay.
LaRoche started to hit last year and he plays a strong third base, according to UZR/150. Moss, Hansen and Morris haven't shown nearly as much promise since the Pirates acquired them, however. The Pirates might get more value from LaRoche than they would have by holding onto Bay until free agency, though the latter choice would've netted them two draft picks.