In order to trade a future Hall of Famer and acquire a player in return, the Red Sox had to agree to pay his remaining salary and include two young players.
That should tell you all you all you need to know about Manny Ramirez's value around the game and exactly how desperate the Red Sox were to rid themselves of his presence by yesterday's non-waiver trading deadline.
After 18 hours worth of talks involving the Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates proved futile, the Red Sox scrambled to assemble another swap at the 11th hour and finally found a willing partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers.
General manager Theo Epstein was working with a mandate from within his own clubhouse. Following his team's dispiriting loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Wednesday night, Epstein met with a handful of Red Sox veterans, all of whom delivered the same message: Manny had to go.
If his antics weren't directly responsible for the team's slide - the Sox have lost five of six on the current homestand, their worst stretch of play at Fenway all season - they were certainly serving as a distraction.
Worse, the players feared that if Ramirez remained with the Sox for the remainder of the season, he couldn't be counted upon in the middle of a pennant race. In their minds, there were no guarantees that Ramirez wouldn't engage in further petulant displays that could sidetrack the team's playoff push.
In the past, teammates had advised against just such a deal, reminding management that, whatever his faults, Ramirez's skill as a run producer were too valuable. But in the last week or so, Ramirez lost the clubhouse and the equation was turned on its head: no matter how good he was as a hitter, it wasn't enough to outweigh the negatives.
They were tired of answering questions about him, tired of rationalizing his selfish behavior, and frankly, tired of him.
Armed with that knowledge, Epstein set out to make a trade - any trade.
Of course, most teams understood that the Sox were operating without much leverage to begin with. Ramirez's reputation meant his baggage was considerable and the Sox tried to negate that somewhat by offering to take responsibility for the rest of his 2008 salary (approximately $7 million) while getting Ramirez to agree that he wouldn't accept salary arbitration.
Those moves accomplished several things. First, by offering Ramirez at no salary cost, the Sox expanded the list of interested teams exponentially. While the majority of clubs would have balked at picking up the $7 million, the prospect of obtaining him without any financial obligations invited everyone into the bidding, including Florida, whose entire payroll was only somewhat more than Ramirez's salary.
Next, by having Ramirez agree in advance to reject any offer of salary arbitration, the Sox eliminated the last potential pitfall. If a team dealt for Ramirez and he performed poorly, or was injured, they risked having Ramirez accept arbitration and winning a one-year deal at more than his current $20 million figure.
Finally, knowing that Ramirez wouldn't accept arbitration, the team trading for him understood that they would be guaranteed two compensatory draft picks - a first-round pick and a sandwich pick -- in next June's first-year player draft.
Through that lens, look at this from the Dodgers' standpoint: They landed Ramirez, rent-free, for two months, and while they had to give up two promising prospects to Pittsburgh (Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris) they'll be replenished next summer. From that standpoint, the trade was without risk.
The Sox, by contrast, are looking at equal parts risk-reward.
Jason Bay, the lone player they acquired for Ramirez, is under their control through 2009. Any effort to sign him to a contract extension before the end of next year will likely be a waste of time since Bay, too, is represented by Scott Boras. Boras has made it a practice of steering clients away from signing extensions before they can hit the open market.
His logic is unassailable: Why negotiate with one team when you can negotiate with as many as 30?
For that reason, there's a chance that Bay's stay in Boston could be relatively short. Perhaps by 2010, either Josh Reddick or Ryan Kalish will be ready to inhabit left field for the Sox and Boston can reap the compensation picks from Bay that it forfeited from Ramirez.
In the meantime, Bay will likely hit fifth in the Red Sox batting order, if for no other reason than the Sox don't want to invite direct comparisons to Ramirez by having the newcomer take over Ramirez's customary cleanup spot.
Chances are, he'll be a better offensive player than he was in Pittsburgh. Fenway is more suited to his swing, and the surrounding lineup is infinitely better than it was with the Pirates.
There's no way of knowing how Bay will perform in the playoffs, should the Red Sox get there, because he's never before experienced the postseason. For that matter, he's never played on a team that finished the season with a winning record. It can be said that when Bay takes the field for the first time in a Red Sox uniform Thursday night, he'll be also be playing in his first meaningful game in the major leagues.
In that sense, there's much that is unknown about Jason Bay. But he's member of the Red Sox because they already knew plenty about the player they traded to get him.