The Vetoed A-Rod Deal
On December 13th 2003 the Texas Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox for Manny Ramirez. Wait, that didn’t happen, but it was oh so close. Looking back, it would’ve been a coup compared to what the Rangers eventually got from the New York Yankees, Alfonso Soriano, Joaquin Arias and some sour fans.
The Rangers and Red Sox had a deal agreed upon, only for the players union to squash it because A-Rod was surrendering money to abort Texas in return for an option out of his contract two season later, and increased marketing and logo rights. You know, because everyone loved A-Rod and his brand at the time.
I really don’t like what-ifs. I don’t. Life unravels as it does and to think about what didn’t happen and imagine it did is kind of frivolous. The Manny/A-Rod swap was completely erased from my memory for some reason. It was pulled back into my vortex when I was reading Bill Simmon’s Red Sox, tribute book, “Now I Can Die in Peace”. Bill had put a column of his, displaying his elation that the Red Sox were going to sign Manny Ramirez, which they did six days later. It jogged my memory, I then remembered visioning Manny in a Ranger uniform. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and reaffirmed that the A-Rod for Soriano deal was indeed horrific.
Not only that, but if this deal would’ve went through, there would have been about a thousand ripple effects, with the trading of the game’s two highest-paid players at the time. For instance, the Red Sox would then have been forced to move Nomar Garciaparra and according to this article he would have been a White Sox. The Red Sox would have had A-Rod and whatever they got for Nomar, instead of Nomar and Manny for their first World Series title in ages, in 2004. Or…. or …. or, maybe the Red Sox would have continued in their futlity and never won in 2004. Red Sox president Larry Luchino was very candid on the demise of the trade at the time,”The players’ association’s intransigence and the arbitrary nature of its action are responsible for the deal’s demise today.”
Well it worked out for Boston, they won in 2004 and 2007. It worked out for the Yankees, they won in 2009. And it worked out for the Rangers they won in 201.., oh that’s right, but really close. The Rangers have won in spite of the years the organization was under the rain cloud that was the Tom Hicks reign.
It get it, I really do. What-ifs are of no consequence. And the biggest what-if right now is: What if this .gif wasn’t a Ranger parody, but a Rangers celebration? But the deal was done! The Rangers and Red Sox agreed to it. It was close. Close to having Manny Ramirez for five seasons for $97.5 remaining on his deal, instead of Soriano for two years, then Brad Wilkerson(!) for another brutal, two years. The Rangers went from A-Rod, the best player alive, to missing barely on Manny, one of the best hitters ever on estrogen, to Alfonso Soriano, talented but with rough edges, to Brad Wilkerson, not a lot of talent and not the best “anything’ in the baseball spectrum. By all accounts, a tragedy. If only the players union looked the other way.
If this trade would have gone through, I suppose Manny would not have played out his contract in Texas, 2004-2008. Mark Teixeira was traded July 31, 2007, with a season and a half to go before free agency. Manny went to free agency the same winter as Teixeira, so its likely he would have been dealt the same summer or possibly earlier. Manny did net the Red Sox a productive, and cost efficient Jason Bay the following summer. This would have given the Ranger’s front office even more firepower to rebuild. One can only imagine what Jon Daniels could have turned Manny into.
Who knows what the Manny era in Texas would have been like, but I’m sure it would’ve beat the Soriano/Wilkerson duo. This trade/non-trade was a turning point in Rangers history. An ill-fated turn in Rangers history that was corrected by the Tex-trade. December 13, 2003, unfortunately never came to pass, but thankfully there are no what-ifs about July 31, 2007.