That time Manny Ramirez nearly became a Met

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In a column for Newsday, David Lennon details how former major leaguer and current Cubs batting instructor Manny Ramirez nearly came to the Mets in a trade. In 2005, then-GM of the Mets Omar Minaya came “within a few hours” of securing Ramirez in a trade with the Red Sox.

The Mets tried to get the Rays involved as a third team in a deal, but they backed out when they realized they wouldn’t be able to get then-prospect Hanley Ramirez from the Red Sox. In the final hours, Lennon details, the Mets thought they had cinched a deal which would have sent Lastings Milledge and Mike Cameron to Boston, but talks fell apart hours ahead of the 4 PM EST deadline on July 31.

Jim Duquette, Minaya’s VP of baseball operations in 2005, said of the negotiations:

“We weren’t able to match up and give them enough,” Duquette said. “They were looking for more younger players in return. We wanted them to give more money. We weren’t going to take the full freight on that one. I don’t think they thought Milledge was the right guy. That’s why we were trying to bring in a third team.”

Ramirez ultimately stayed in Boston for another few seasons until he was traded to the Dodgers in a three-team trade also involving the Pirates at the trade deadline in 2008.

It’s interesting to think how different things might have been if Ramirez had gone to the Mets in 2005.

Padres will try to lock up Fernando Tatís Jr. to a long term deal

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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.

It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.

That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.

But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?

We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.