BOSTON (CBS) — The countdown to 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon is on, and rumors are swirling around the Boston Red Sox.
Boston is usually involved in a few rumors this time of year, but not usually like this. Sitting in the basement of the AL East and with a handful of teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings, the defending World Series champs are in sell mode. Jon Lester is the biggest name connected to rumors, with John Lackey, Andrew Miller, Stephen Drew and Jonny Gomes all on the sell list as well.
Here are five of the biggest trades (and a few bonus deals) pulled off by the Red Sox on deadline day:
7/31/1997: Red Sox trade Healthcliff Slocumb to Mariners for Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek
Dan Duquette was the man who brought Pedro Martinez to town, and a few years later added Manny Ramirez to that mix. What he couldn’t bring was that long-awaited World Series title, but “The Duke” certainly made moves that helped that process come to fruition in 2004.
He acquired two of those pieces in a 1997 deadline day deal that sent then-closer Heathcliff Slocumb, who Red Sox fans had a high level of dislike towards at the time of the trade, to Seattle for a pair of prospects. Those prospects were Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.
Lowe would spend eight years with the Red Sox, enjoying success as a starter and temporarily as a closer. He saved an AL-leading 42 games in 2000 when Boston was having closer trouble, and then went 21-8 as a starter in 2002. While there were a few hiccups along the way, Lowe went 70-55 and notched 85 saves with an impressive 3.72 ERA in his eight seasons as a member of the Red Sox. His final season was his most memorable, as Lowe got the win in all three of Boston’s clinching games en route to the franchise’s first World Series title in 86 years.
As good as Lowe was, Varitek would be even better. Spending his entire 15-year career in Boston, Varitek was named just the third team captain in franchise history in 2004, a position he held until his retirement following the 2011 season. He was a leader in the clubhouse and a calming presence behind the plate,catching four no-hitters throughout his career.
He was a fan favorite before, but won over all of Red Sox nation after smushing Alex Rodriguez’s face in 2004:
Slocumb went on to record 16 more saves over the final three years of his career.
7/31/2009: Red Sox Acquire Victor Martinez From Indians for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price
With Varitek struggling as his career winded down, the Red Sox needed an upgrade behind the plate and in their lineup at the 2009 deadline. So Theo Epstein dealt some promising prospects to acquire Victor Martinez from the Cleveland Indians.
Martinez was a solid addition for the Red Sox in his season-and-a-half in Boston, batting .313 in 183 regular season games, splitting time at first base and behind the plate. But Boston let V-Mart go when he became a free agent in 2010, signing a four-year $50 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, leaving the Red Sox with little to show for the deal.
Meanwhile, Masterson turned into Cleveland’s ace (though he went just 48-61 in his six years with the tribe) and was an arm the Red Sox could have used in recent years.
7/31/08: Red Sox Send Manny Ramirez To L.A. In 3-Team Deal, Acquire Jason Bay From Pirates
In 2008, “Manny being Manny” was no longer cute and funny, rather distracting and sometimes a bit violent. The slugger was unhappy in his eighth season in Boston, and stopped running to first on ground balls (even more so than usual) when he wasn’t removing himself from the lineup. He also got into two physical altercations during the season; the first in the dugout with teammate Kevin Youkilis over his over-reaction to a strikeout, and the second with 64-year-old traveling secretary Jack McCormick for not fulfilling a large ticket request.
So Epstein traded the disinterested and disgruntled slugger who helped the team win two World Series to the L.A. Dodgers, sending outfielder Brandon Moss and pitcher Craig Hansen to Pittsburgh and acquiring Jason Bay from Pittsburgh to fill the void left in left field.
Bay was solid for the 2008 Red Sox down the stretch and in the playoffs, batting .412 with a pair of homers in their ALDS sweep of the Angels, but the team fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS. He put up career-numbers in 2009, leading the Red Sox with 36 homers and driving in 119 runs, but he was not re-signed as a free agent after the season. He agreed to a four-year, $66 million contract with the New York Mets, and the Red Sox struggled to put together a reliable outfield throughout the 2010 season.
Luckily, Craig Hansen forgot how to throw a baseball, so the Sox didn’t end up giving up too much to rid themselves of Ramirez.
7/31/04: Red Sox Acquire Dave Roberts from Dodgers for Henri Stanley
The trade was just a footnote given Epstein’s first move of the day, but it ended up being a pretty important move. We’ll let a picture tell this story:
With Mariano Rivera on the mound, Roberts famously swiped second as the Red Sox were clinging to life in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, later scoring the game-tying run. The steal sparked a dramatic comeback not just in that game but the series, as Boston made the historic comeback from a 3-0 series hole.
Dave Roberts is a man who should never have to buy a beer in Boston again.
7/31/04: Red Sox Acquire Orlando Cabrera from Expos, Doug Mientkiewicz from Twins, Send Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to Cubs
This was the trade that made Theo Epstein. It was a gutsy move sending the face of the franchise, albeit a disgruntled face of the franchise, out of town for a pair of defensive-minded players, but it was exactly the shakeup the 2004 Red Sox needed.
Cabrera was a wizard at short and solidified Boston’s infield defense, in addition to creating some pretty amazing celebratory high-fives. Mientkiewicz served as a great defensive replacement for late innings. Neither went on to have a long career with the Red Sox, but both played a big role in bringing the franchise their first World Series title since 1918. It’s also a deadline day that will go down as one of the more important dates in Red Sox history.
7/29/1988: Red Sox send Curt Schilling and Brady Anderson to Orioles for Mike Boddicker
7/31/2001: Red Sox acquire Ugeth Urbina from Expos for Toma Ohka, Rich Rundles
7/30/2002: Red Sox acquire Cliff Floyd from Expos for Seung Song, Sun-Woo Kim
7/31/2007: Red Sox acquire Eric Gagne from Rangers for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy and Engel Beltre
MORE SPORTS COVERAGE FROM CBS BOSTON