Red Sox to explore Manny trade

Red Sox to explore Manny trade

BOSTON -- Making his first detailed comments to the media in some time, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino acknowledged Wednesday night that the club will explore the possibility of trading superstar slugger Manny Ramirez, who recently let it be known through his representatives that he'd prefer not to serve the remaining three years of his contract in a Boston uniform.

For the first time, Lucchino also discussed the decision of Theo Epstein to depart his post as general manager, and Lucchino urged that it is time for Red Sox Nation to move on and focus on the overall state of the club, which Lucchino still feels is positive.

As for Ramirez, he has asked to be traded on an almost yearly basis since joining the Red Sox in the 2001 season. Though his moods have sometimes shifted in the past to where it seemed he was happy in Boston, the Red Sox now seem united with their left fielder in trying to do what is best for him and the team.

"There needs to be some give and take, or some exchange of preferences and places," Lucchino said in a roundtable discussion at the general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Calif., that included The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Associated Press, among other media entities.

"So, obviously we have to work together, and we told him we would be willing to explore that. He needs to give us some guidance," continued Lucchino.

While the Red Sox have forged ahead in their pursuit of finding a successor to Epstein -- three candidates were interviewed on Wednesday -- Lucchino and club chairman Tom Werner both dismissed persistent rumors that have speculated that Epstein might change his mind and return.

"I believe his place in the history of the club is positive and secure, but his departure does not terminate the history of the club," Lucchino said. "You know, [principal owner] John [W. Henry], Tom and I are optimistic about the future of the club. As Tom said, the Red Sox are in an excellent place. We have outstanding people filling roles throughout the organization. There's every reason to look forward to exciting times ahead, and I predict successful seasons."

The Red Sox have won 93 games or more in all four years of the Henry-Werner-Lucchino ownership group, and won the World Series in 2004.

Yes, Lucchino and Werner were both aware of rumors regarding Epstein's possible return, but both men said there was no substance to it.

Lucchino was asked by reporters if he had spent any time trying to persuade Epstein to change his mind. His response was a simple, "No, I have not."

"We have heard the rumors, but we completely discount them," Werner said.

Because Epstein never gave concise reasons for his decision not to accept the club's three-year offer worth roughly $4.5 million, there has been boundless speculation that a downturn in his relationship with Lucchino, who he worked under in three different organizations, was the primary reason he left.

"People have asked me ... to speculate on the reason for Theo's decision. That I'm not going to do," Lucchino said. "Theo characterized our meetings as honest discussions that were private. He made it clear his decisions were based on various factors that were very personal, he said. I respect his privacy and won't speculate about the reasons for his decision."

Whomever the 12th general manager in the history of the Red Sox winds up being, they will have a pivotal decision to make involving Ramirez, one of the elite hitters of the last decade.

Lucchino and Werner met on Wednesday with Greg Genske, Ramirez's agent, to talk about the options.

The Red Sox, by no means, have ruled out Ramirez being back in his customary cleanup spot behind David Ortiz in 2006.

"We'll explore it. I wouldn't be surprised if we conclude that it's best for the Boston Red Sox to retain his services," Werner said. "We are sensitive to his desires, but we'll end up doing what we think is in the best interest of the club."

Back in July, when Ramirez had also expressed a desire to be moved, Lucchino seemed more dismissive, lightly noting how it was all but an annual rite of passage for the right-handed masher to ask for a trade.

Now, however, Lucchino seems to be taking a different stance.

"We're not trying to make light of it," said Lucchino. "He has expressed from time to time a desire to explore this and we're going to in good faith actively explore it."

The exploration for a new GM also continues, as Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, Braves assistant general manager of baseball operations Dayton Moore and Twins assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky all interviewed with Lucchino and Werner on Wednesday.

Jim Beattie, a veteran baseball executive who was recently dismissed by the Orioles, will interview on Friday in Boston.

Indians assistant general manager Chris Antonetti and Blue Jays director of player personnel Tony LaCava both politely declined to be interviewed for the position, which became vacant on Oct. 31.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.