The Mets have been engaged in ongoing talks with the Devil Rays about reliever Danys Baez, but, according to multiple baseball sources, those discussions could bloom into a blockbuster four-team trade scenario in which Manny Ramirez winds up at Shea and similarly disgruntled slugger Miguel Tejada lands in Boston. According to sources, both the Red Sox and Orioles have resigned themselves to accommodating the trade requests of Ramirez and Tejada, who want off of their respective teams. But since the Orioles have signed Jeromy Burnitz to complete their outfield, they may not have a match with the Red Sox in a straight-up Tejada-for-Ramirez deal, so several baseball executives said they'd have to get other teams involved. That's where the Mets and Devil Rays come in. The basics of the four-team deal that had the baseball executives buzzing yesterday and would appear to satisfy the needs of all four clubs would have Tejada and Tampa Bay's Joey Gathright going to the Red Sox to fill Boston's holes at shortstop and center field. Ramirez and Baez would go to the Mets, giving them one of the game's best sluggers and a setup man. The Orioles would satisfy their need at shortstop by getting Julio Lugo from Tampa Bay and add pitching by getting Matt Clement from Boston and possibly Kris Benson from the Mets. The Devil Rays, who have always been difficult to deal with, especially in complicated transactions, are seeking top prospects and young pitching and would be satisfied in that regard by getting third baseman Andy Marte from Boston and Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman from the Mets. In addition, the Mets would send Kaz Matsui to Tampa to give the D-Rays a stopgap shortstop replacement until prospect B.J. Upton is ready. An executive with one of the teams called the four-team scenario far-fetched, but an official with another of the teams said he expected to broach such talks. The Mets and GM Omar Minaya long have coveted Ramirez, a nine-time All-Star. Ramirez has said he wants to leave Boston and the Mets are one of the few clubs in baseball that could take on all or part of his monster salary - Ramirez is due $57 million over the next three seasons. Money, of course, could complicate the deal. In addition to Ramirez's hefty price tag, Tejada is owed $48 million and part of a $12 million signing bonus for the next four years. Independently, the Mets have been talking for weeks with the Devil Rays about Baez, who was 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 41 saves as a closer last season. Seo and Heilman have been mentioned as possible matches in a potential one-for-one deal, but two Mets sources said yesterday they would "absolutely" not part with Heilman for Baez. However, if talks expand and include bringing Ramirez to the Mets, Heilman might have to be sacrificed. If the Mets got Baez, he would set up for new closer Billy Wagner. But Baez doesn't seem to want to switch jobs. In an interview yesterday with the St. Petersburg Times, he said, "I don't know if I want to be a setup guy. I want to be a closer. "But if they trade me, I don't have a choice. If they want me to be a setup guy, that's what I'll do."
A New Year's Four-Way Deal?