CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Claire: A done deal

Claire: A done deal

It was eight years ago this December that the general manager of the Boston Red Sox and a very visible agent agreed to one of the richest contracts in baseball history.

I refer to the deal that made the then free agent Manny Ramirez a member of the Red Sox as he signed an eight-year contract for $160 million. Oh yes, the agreement included two option years held by the team.

You will want to keep those option years in mind because they become more meaningful as the story progresses.

More

The general manager of Boston at the time was Dan Duquette and he has been highly criticized by a number of those who pay close attention to the well-chronicled adventures of the Red Sox.

Duquette took time from his busy schedule this week to counter some of the criticism that has come his way related to the Ramirez contract.

"Manny was one of the most productive power hitters in the history of baseball during his time with the Red Sox and the team won two World Series. He was the MVP of the World Series in 2004 and finished second in the voting last year.

"He helped to drive both attendance and television ratings and revenue to record levels and he enabled the team to develop players as he was in the middle of the lineup on a regular basis."

Asked if he would make the same deal again, Duquette replied, "There's no question about it. Manny delivered for the Red Sox and it paid off."

Duquette recalled that Boston wanted to sign Ramirez to a seven-year contract but the agent and the player wanted eight years. "We went to eight and were able to gain the two option years," said Duquette.

Duquette didn't have the opportunity to be in the GM chair when Ramirez helped lead the Red Sox to their long-awaited World Series victory in 2004. He had been replaced when a new ownership group hired Theo Epstein.

The agent for Ramirez also moved on. That would be Jeff Moorad, who left the business of representing players to become a partner and top executive for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Moorad will forever be connected to Ramirez, not only because of the deal he made with Boston but because he allowed a crew from ESPN to follow many key parts of the negotiations for the free agent he was representing.

Moorad was determined to get Ramirez to the $20 million a season mark but he never could have imagined that his former client would turn out to be a major obstacle for the team he now directs.

Oh, those darn option years in Ramirez's contract. You see, it was Ramirez who didn't like the fact that the Red Sox held options for $20 million a season for each of the next two years and there was no spoken commitment coming from the team.

It was an understandable position for the Red Sox, who wanted to see how things played out. Understandable, that is, to all but Ramirez. The slugger was making it clear he wasn't happy the way things were playing out with Boston, telling a reporter from ESPNDeportes the Red Sox "don't deserve a player like me."

And so the Red Sox last week were willing to drop the option years to get Ramirez to waive his right to block a deal.

After all of the team-player-agent maneuvering, Ramirez agreed to a trade to the Dodgers. He landed at Dodger Stadium and right in front of Moorad as the Diamondbacks were in Los Angeles to battle their chief rival in the National League West.

To say that Ramirez made a positive impact on the Dodgers - -and a negative one on Moorad's team -- is an understatement.

Ramirez has given the Dodgers new life and the Diamondbacks know they have a large hurdle placed in their way in their bid for a spot in postseason play.

It all started with so much hope for Duquette and Moorad when the deal was signed.

Now, here we are today, Duquette running a baseball camp and collegiate team in the Boston area and staying busy with the game in various ways but not as a GM; Moorad hoping to see his Diamondbacks have a good season and reach the postseason; and Manny, well, as they say, is "Manny being Manny."

The Red Sox were hoping for production when they signed Ramirez. That's what Moorad had promised.

There's no way in the world the agent-turned-team executive could have imagined that production would now be playing out near Hollywood.

You get the feeling this has gone beyond the cameras of ESPN. There has to be a full-blown movie coming soon.

Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as executive vice-president and general manager. His book "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue" was published last year by SportsPublishingLLC. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less