ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said
the team offered Nomar Garciaparra a $60 million contract a second
time in March in a genuine effort to keep him, but the shortstop
had no interest in it.
"We were trying to find a way to sign him, and we never
received a counter [offer] to any of the proposals we made," Henry
told Boston-area reporters Tuesday, when the Red Sox beat the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays 5-2.
Henry also said that six days before Saturday's trade of
Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs, Garciaparra's agent told general manager Theo Epstein that he had to talk the star shortstop out of
asking to be traded.
"We knew from that that he didn't want to be here," Henry said.
Reached by the Boston Globe Tuesday night, Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, "categorically" denied Henry's assertion. "I never had to talk Nomar out of asking to be traded," Tellem said. "That's absolutely false."
Garciaparra is in the final year of his contract and is eligible
to become a free agent after the World Series. The Red Sox came
close to dealing him in December. He rejected a four-year, $60
million extension offer made in March 2003 and a $48 million offer
made after the season.
Instead, Rodriguez went to the Yankees in February. Garciaparra stayed with Boston and got hurt in spring
training, missing 57 games to Achilles tendinitis. Confessing
that his feelings were hurt, he said he still wanted to finish his
career with the Red Sox.
Henry said he thought the second $60 million offer this March
showed that the Red Sox genuinely wanted to keep Garciaparra, a
two-time AL batting champion.
Henry acknowledged that the second offer included "a portion
that was deferred."
But he said, "I didn't think the deferral was a huge deal
because we knew the Red Sox would be there and, No. 2,
interest rates were low."
Henry said that he, Epstein, and Red Sox CEO
Larry Lucchino met with Garciaparra and Tellem on
July 24 at Fenway Park to ask Garciaparra what could be done to
help Boston and him, and why he seemed so unhappy.
The next day, Henry said, he got a call from Epstein, who was
told by Tellem that "prior to that meeting he had to talk Nomar
out of demanding a trade."
Henry said the trade was "extremely difficult -- he was the face
of the franchise. ... To me, he was the most exciting player I've
ever seen in a Red Sox uniform."
But Henry also said he supported Epstein's decision to trade
"We believe in Theo. He thought he was doing what was in the
best interests of the organization," Henry said.