BOSTON -- Forget about the months that passed before the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were able to work out compensation for the Cubs' hiring away Theo Epstein to be their president of baseball operations.
If the Red Sox are to succeed in extracting John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays, the few precedents involved in teams working out a deal for a manager show that it happens quickly.
Precedent also indicates that the Red Sox had best be prepared to give up at least one pretty good player in return. Past managers have been traded for (A) another manager; (B) a veteran catcher; (C) an All-Star outfielder; and (D) two top-10 prospects in the organization.
The last such deal, the one in which the Miami Marlins acquired Ozzie Guillen from the Chicago White Sox last year, happened even before the end of the season. Guillen, who was unsuccessful in obtaining an extension on his contract during the season from the White Sox, asked for and was granted his release by White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf with three games left in the season.
A day later, Guillen was hired by the Marlins, who sent reliever Jhan Marinez and shortstop Ozzie Martinez to the White Sox as compensation. Marinez was ranked as the Marlins' fourth-best prospect by Baseball America at the start of the season, Martinez fifth. Marinez had a very good season in Triple-A (.177 opponents' batting average, 9.29 strikeouts per 9 innings) and made a cameo appearance in the big leagues. Martinez hit just .177 in Triple-A for Chicago and was traded in July to the Dodgers.
For comparison's sake, Baseball America ranked pitcher Anthony Ranaudo and outfielder Bryce Brentz fourth and fifth, respectively, at the start of this season, although Ranaudo injured his groin in spring training, was shut down with a tired arm in July and made only nine starts for Double-A Portland this season, posting a 6.69 ERA. Using the current listing of SoxProspects.com, the fourth- and fifth-rated prospects in the Sox system are Allen Webster and Rubby de la Rosa, the two pitchers acquired from the Dodgers in August's megadeal. It's a safe assumption that the Sox will not give up either for Farrell, although the Blue Jays have identified starting pitching as their No. 1 priority this winter.
In 2002, the Seattle Mariners granted manager Lou Piniella his wish to move closer to his home in Tampa and worked out a deal with the Rays for outfielder Randy Winn (technically, just as in the Guillen deal, a minor leaguer also went back with Piniella to the Rays). On Oct. 28, the day after the World Series ended, the Mariners and Rays announced the deal. Winn, who had been Tampa Bay's only representative on the All-Star team, was a regular for two seasons for the Mariners before being dealt to the San Francisco Giants in a trading-deadline deal in 2005.
Piniella's trade to the Rays was the first involving a manager since 1976, when Chuck Tanner went from Charlie Finley's Oakland Athletics to the Pittsburgh Pirates for popular catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000 in cash.
It was a complicated matter. Finley had hired Tanner the year before from the White Sox, who had released Tanner with three years left on his contract. Finley believed at the time that White Sox owner Bill Veeck would be on the hook for the remainder of that deal. When the league ruled that Finley would have to pay for the final two years, he became receptive to the idea of moving him to Pittsburgh, where the legendary Danny Murtaugh had just retired and the new GM, Harding "Pete" Peterson, desperately wanted Tanner.
On Nov. 5, 1976, two weeks after the end of the World Series, Tanner was bound for Pittsburgh in a deal widely decried by Pirates fans. Sanguillen, who was 33, caught just 77 games for the Athletics in his only season in Oakland, and was traded back to the Pirates the following season.
The manager-for-manager swap occurred in 1960, when Cleveland GM Frank "Trader" Lane swapped his manager, Joe Gordon, to Detroit for Jimmy Dykes in August of that season. The deal made little impact on either team. Gordon was fired by the Tigers at the end of the season; Dykes was let go the following year.
With Bobby Valentine already fired, that option isn't open to the Sox, as if the Jays would have even been open to such a deal.
Last fall, when the Sox first broached the subject of trying to hire away Farrell, the Jays reportedly asked for Clay Buchholz, then announced they would no longer allow their employees under contract to leave unless it was for a promotion. The Sox wouldn't think of parting with Buchholz.
A year later, the speculation is that the Jays would relax their policy and cut a deal with the Sox, but the asking price might still be stiff enough to give the Sox pause. Depending on what Jays scouts think of Daniel Bard's prospects of bouncing back, he could be someone they ask for, or another potential rotation piece like Franklin Morales.
But all indications are that a resolution will come expeditiously.