The winter clearance sale at Florida Marlins headquarters has officially begun. That Josh Beckett is about to leave the racks doesn't seem to bother him a bit.
The Marlins and Red Sox on Thursday completed their trade that
sends Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston, but
not before reliever Guillermo Mota was added to a deal that netted
Florida four prospects Thursday night.
The trade was reported and confirmed by baseball officials
earlier in the week, but it wasn't finalized until the players
passed their physicals. The announcement Thursday included two new
names: Mota is headed to Boston and minor league right-hander
Harvey Garcia to the Marlins.
Florida also gets top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez along
with pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado.
The Red Sox have agreed to take on all $18 million of the money owed to Lowell over the next two seasons, a baseball official with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. The Marlins are expected to save $13 million next season and as much as $30 million through 2007.
In return, the Red Sox gave up Ramirez, their much-ballyhooed shortstop prospect, and Sanchez. The Marlins originally had targeted left-hander Jon Lester, but Boston balked at including him in the trade, so the Red Sox agreed to add a second minor leaguer if Florida took Sanchez instead, a source told Stark.
Over the weekend the Rangers were considered the frontrunner to land the hard-throwing Beckett. Texas was offering All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock and one of its two top pitching prospects, either Thomas Diamond or John Danks, for Beckett. Blalock, who turned 25 on Monday, hit .263 with 25 homers and 92 RBI last season and led AL third basemen in fielding.
New Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said he received a call Monday afternoon from Beinfest, who told him "the Marlins are going to go in another direction with their trade."
Before Texas was told it was eliminated from the running, Florida asked the Rangers to expand their deal even further to include hot shortstop prospect Joaquin Arias, along with Blalock and a pitcher. In return, the Rangers wanted a second pitcher back -- possibly setup man Guillermo Mota.
Coming off a third-place finish in the NL East, the Marlins have made it known they are looking to shed salary. Florida had an Opening-Day payroll of $60 million last season, while Boston began the year at $121 million.
Beckett went 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA last season, when he had problems with his shoulder and recurring blisters on his right middle finger. As for his arm, he pronounced himself healthy, telling the Herald "I don't need any physical."
Lowell, 31, hit .236 with eight homers and 58 RBI while winning the NL Gold Glove at third base last season. He averaged 24 homers and 94 RBI per season in the five years before that.
Ramirez, who turns 22 next month, is considered to be Boston's top prospect. He hit .271 with six homers and 52 RBI at Double-A Portland. Ramirez was selected for the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game as well as the Futures Game for the World team. Ramirez was twice named the Red Sox top prospect by Baseball America.
Sanchez, 21, split his time between Class A Wilmington and Double-A Portland. While at Wilmington, Sanchez went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA, striking out 95 in 78 2/3 innings. Sanchez went 3-5 with a 3.45 ERA after making the jump to Portland, striking out 63 in 57 1/3 innings. Sanchez also was named to the Futures Game for the World team.
Delgado, 21, was 7-3 with a 3.50 ERA at Class-A Greenville.
Beckett, eligible for salary arbitration, is expected to earn between $4 million and $5 million next season and can become a free agent after the 2007 season.
ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons, ESPN.com senior writer Jayson Stark and The Associated Press contributed to this story.