After all the talks the Red Sox have had with the Marlins and Pirates the last two days, could it be that Manny Ramirez winds up starting in left field for the Red Sox Friday night?
The latest news from ESPN.com's Peter Gammons: "A source close to the three-way negotiations involving Manny Ramirez says the deal is close to dead. Florida has reportedly asked Boston for a cash outlay beyond the $7 million to cover Ramirez's contract, in addition to two prospects. That essentially would add up to the Red Sox trading Ramirez, $9 million and two prospects for Jason Bay."
The Pirates could deal Bay somewhere else -- Tampa Bay has been mentioned and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is now citing the Blue Jays -- or just hang on to him.
Keep in mind that in recent years, the Red Sox have never been shy about pulling away from blockbuster deals when the price simply became too much. Most dramatically, the Sox had a Ramirez for Alex Rodriguez mega-swap lined up in December, 2003, and pulled out of that when their proposed restructuring of A-Rod's contract was turned down by the Players Association. More recently, Theo Epstein didn't trade for Johan Santana this winter because the asking price of talented young players was simply too much.
T-minus three hours.