The Top 10 Bidding Wars Between the Red Sox and Yankees
The rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox has not been limited to the baseball diamond.
Mark Teixeira, who had been courted heavily by Boston, is an example of how the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has extended past the playing field, and into the front office.
Here's a look back at some of the most recent examples of the Yankees and Red Sox bidding against one another for the services of a mutually coveted player.
10. Doug Mirabelli
In one of the more bizarre—if not necessarily significant—chapters of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, both teams found themselves pursuing backup catcher Doug Mirabelli.
Mirabelli, who was traded by the Red Sox following the 2005 season to the San Diego Padres for infielder Mark Loretta, spent four-and-a-half years in Boston serving primarily as knuckleballer Tim Wakefield's personal catcher.
Mirabelli's replacement Josh Bard had been acquired by the Red Sox in January and was expected to take Mirabelli's place as Wakefield's personal catcher. Five starts and 10 passed balls later, the Red Sox found themselves on the phone with Padres' GM Kevin Towers. But they weren't alone.
''I couldn't let it be just a one-horse race. They'd have to pay the highest price," recalled Yankees GM Brian Cashman. ''Everyone in baseball knew [the Red Sox] would be calling [San Diego]. So if I could do anything to delay it or get the price up...I'm not saying I did any of that, but that's my job."
In the end, the Red Sox managed to flip Bard and Cla Meredith to the Padres to bring back Mirabelli. The veteran catcher arrived at Fenway via a police escort just in time for the start of a May 1 game against (fittingly) the New York Yankees, a game that Wakefield started. The Red Sox won that game 7-3.
Mirabelli batted .193 for the Red Sox in 2006, and the team finished third in the American League East behind New York and Toronto. In 93 games for the Padres, Josh Bard posted a 0.943 OPS and reliever Cla Meredith pitched 50 2/3 innings of 1.07 ERA ball.
9. Eric Gagne
In July of 2007, the Texas Rangers were sitting in fourth place in the AL West, and out of the playoff picture. With little left to play for, the team put closer Eric Gagne on the trading block.
Gagne—who at that point in the season had posted a 2.16 ERA with 16 saves—drew significant interest from the Red Sox and Yankees, both of whom were looking for bullpen help.
The Rangers requested from the Yankees a package headlined by one of either pitching prospect Ian Kennedy or starting center fielder Melky Cabrera, a demand that the Yankees balked at.
Sitting comfortable in first place and hoping to add to their lead in the AL East, the Red Sox traded starting pitcher Kason Gabbard and minor league outfielders David Murphy and Engel Beltre to the Rangers for the former All-Star closer. The move bolstered a bullpen that already featured All-Stars Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon.
Acquired on July 31, Gagne would go on to pitch miserably down the stretch, posting a 6.75 ERA for the Red Sox and blowing three saves. The Red Sox would go on to win the 2007 World Series, but Gagne would make only one postseason appearance in a close game.
In Game Two of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, Gagne entered with the game tied in the bottom of the 11th. He allowed two earned runs in what would go on to be a seven-run inning and a Boston loss. The Red Sox opted not to retain his services following the 2007 season.
8. Carl Pavano
It seems hard to believe now, but in the winter of 2004-'05 Carl Pavano was one of baseball's most sought-after free agents. Coming off a career year with the Florida Marlins in which he won 18 games while posting a 3.00 ERA, Pavano embarked on a cross-country free agency tour dubbed "Carlapalooza" by his agent, drawing significant interest from multiple clubs.
A former Red Sox farmhand who had been traded in 1997 for Pedro Martinez, Pavano was heavily courted by the World Series Champs, who were looking to bolster a rotation that had lost Derek Lowe and the aforementioned Martinez to free agency.
Red Sox ace Curt Schilling made his pitch, inviting Pavano to his home in Medfield, MA for a two-hour recruiting session over lunch.
That said, despite receiving higher offers from both the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds, Pavano ultimately chose the Yankees and signed a four-year, $39.95 million deal on Dec. 20, 2004.
It was something of a homecoming for the right-hander, who grew up a Yankees fan in the Connecticut suburbs.
What all these teams seemingly failed to account for was Pavano's injury history. He had pitched only two injury-free seasons in his career (2003 and 2004) and wound up spending most of his four years in New York on the disabled list. Teammates questioned both his work ethic and toughness, and Pavano started just 26 games in four years with the Yankees.
Now a free agent, among the teams thought to be interested in Pavano's services are the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers. Among the teams not interested are the New York Yankees.
7. Jose Contreras
In a 2003 deal that prompted Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino to famously refer to the Yankees as "the Evil Empire," the Yankees signed Cuban defector Jose Contreras to a four-year contract worth $32 million.
The signing was preceded by an all-out bidding war between Boston and New York that seemed to take the rivalry to new heights.
In December 2002, the Red Sox—in an effort to box out the Yankees—bought up all the rooms in the hotel in which the Cuban pitcher was staying, just so New York officials could not get close to him.
Despite Boston's best efforts the Yankees won the bidding war, and on February 6, 2003 Jose Contreras became the newest member of New York's pitching staff. Shuffling between the starting rotation and bullpen in his first year with the team, Contreras went 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA.
Contreras' next year in pinstripes was an unmitigated disaster. After getting hammered in the first half to the tune of a 5.64 ERA in 18 starts, the right-hander was dealt to the White Sox for right-handed starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza. Contreras would go on to win a World Championship with the White Sox in 2005, along with fellow Cuban (and former Yankee) Orlando Hernandez.
Contreras owns a career record of 3-5 with an 8.81 ERA against the Red Sox.
6. Bernie Williams
Bernie Williams entered free agency following a 1998 season that had seen him win the American League batting title while playing center field for a team that won 114 regular season games on their way to a World Series title.
The Yankees offered Williams a five year, $60 million contract to keep him in the Bronx, while simultaneously courting temperamental (read: insane) White Sox slugger Albert Belle.
On November 23, the Red Sox, looking for an upgrade over current center fielder Darren Lewis, offered Williams a seven-year contract worth $91.5 million. The next day Williams' agent Scott Boras approached George Steinbrenner with the Red Sox offer, emphasizing the center fielder's preference to remain with the Yankees.
Having weighed their options, on the evening of November 24, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman extended a five-year, $60 million offer to Albert Belle.
Belle accepted, before calling back 30 minutes later having changed his mind.
The next day, the Yankees announced that they had signed Bernie Williams to a seven-year, $87.5 million deal, making him the highest paid Yankee in history.
Over the following seven seasons Williams would post an 0.866 OPS, win two gold gloves, and help the Yankees win two more World Series trophies. Albert Belle spent two years with the Baltimore Orioles before retiring at the age of 34 with an arthritic hip condition.
The Red Sox primary center fielder in 1999 was again Darren Lewis. The club then traded for "Jurassic" Carl Everett in the off season.
5. Mike Mussina
After the 1997 season, Baltimore Orioles ace Mike Mussina signed a three-year contract extension with the team worth $20.2 million, well below the market value at the time for a frontline starting pitcher.
Braves left-hander (and fellow Players Association member) Tom Glavine criticized Mussina for accepting the contract and lowering the asking price for top pitchers.
With the deal expiring after the 2000 season, Mussina asked the Orioles for a six-year deal at fair-market value. Negotiations with owner Peter Angelos dragged on from Spring Training to midseason. When the Orioles—who were in the midst of a third consecutive losing season—dealt veterans Will Clark, Harold Baines, Mike Bordick, Mike Timlin, Charles Johnson, and B.J. Surhoff at the trade deadline, it became clear to Mussina that the Orioles were rebuilding.
With that, Mussina entered free agency as the market's most coveted starting pitcher. Stating his desire to pitch close to his Pennsylvania home, Mussina's top suitors were the New York Yankees, the cross-town Mets, and the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox—coming off their third straight second-place finish in the AL East—planned to increase payroll by nearly $50 million, and made strong pushes to sign both Mussina and free agent starter Denny Neagle.
The Yankees were coming off their fourth World Series title in five years and were looking for a replacement for aging right-hander David Cone—who would go on to sign with the Red Sox. Though Mussina had previously expressed doubts over playing in a bustling city like New York, Yankees skipper Joe Torre, along with Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, and Andy Pettite made recruiting calls to the pitcher, emphasizing the merits of playing for the Yankees.
On November 30 he signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal to join the Yankees. At the end of the day, it was the phone call from Torre that Mussina would credit for bringing him to the Bronx. That, and his desire to add a World Series win to his resume.
Though he never won that elusive World Championship, Mussina went 123-72 over the next eight years with New York, and in 2008 won 20 games in a season for the first time in his career.
The Red Sox, having been spurned by both Mussina and Neagle (who signed a five year deal with Colorado) added the biggest bat on the free agent market: Cleveland outfielder Manny Ramirez, for eight-years and $160 million.
Ramirez would go on to win two World Series rings with Boston, and was named Series MVP in 2004.
4. Johnny Damon
At the end of the 2005 season, Red Sox centerfielder Johnny Damon was coming off his two best years with the club, and hoped to sign a contract that would allow him to finish his career in Boston.
The Red Sox, hoping to retain their All-Star leadoff hitter, offered Damon a three-year deal thought to be in the range of $30-35 million.
Damon's agent Scott Boras informed the Red Sox that though Damon's preference was to remain in Boston, the free agent had a much larger deal on the table for five years, $65 million. With a front office in disarray due to the sudden resignation of General Manager Theo Epstein, and skeptical that such an offer actually existed, the Red Sox stood firm at their three-year offer.
Rumors began to swirl that Damon had signed with the Yankees. Clearly they were the team that offered the centerfielder the five-year deal. But when the Yankees announced the Damon signing on January 3, 2006, the deal was stated to be worth only four years and $52 million.
Though it is unclear whether or not the Red Sox would have matched this offer, it was clear that Boston had tried to call Boras' bluff, only to find that a larger deal did in fact exist.
It would not be the last time.
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka
Japanese right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka got his first taste of pitching to Major League hitters during the 2006 inaugural World Baseball Classic. A 6-time All-Star in Japan, Matsuzaka went 3-0 in the tournament, and was the winner in the deciding game against Cuba. His strong performance left an impression on observers from major league clubs.
On November 2, 2006, the Seibu Lions gave Matsuzaka permission to pursue a major league career via the posting system.
Under this system, in order to acquire a Japanese player MLB teams are required to pay a transfer fee to the posting team, after which the players negotiate their own deals with the MLB ball club. These transfer fees are collected through a bidding process in the form of a silent auction, in which Major League teams submit sealed bids to the Commissioner's office.
After the bidding process, the Commissioner reveals the highest amount, but not who the bidding team is. The Japanese team then has four days to accept or reject the bid.
Matsuzaka received unprecedented interest from Major League clubs, with bids thought to far exceed the $13.1 million posted by the Mariners for outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2000. On November 14, it was announced that the Boston Red Sox had won the rights to negotiate with Matsuzaka, with a bid of $51,111,111.11, far exceeding the Yankees' bid, thought to be between $32 million and $33 million.
In addition to the posting fee, the Red Sox signed Matsuzaka to a 6-year, $52 million contract, eclipsing the largest deal given a foreign-born player in his initial major league contract.
In his first two seasons with the team, Matsuzaka has gone 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA in 61 starts, and helped bring the Red Sox a World Series title in 2007.
2. Curt Schilling
Following the 2003 season, the Arizona Diamondbacks were looking to scale back their payroll from $94 million to around $80 million. It soon became clear that All-Star starting pitcher Curt Schilling would not be part of their future plans.
Schilling, who had gone 8-9 in 2003 with a 2.95 ERA, made it clear that the only teams he would waive his no-trade clause for were the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees.
The Yankees, hoping to add to a rotation that had lost Roger Clemens and David Wells (and would eventually lose Andy Pettitte) to free agency, showed immediate interest in the right-hander.
The Diamondbacks informed the Yankees that any package for Schilling would need to include both first baseman Nick Johnson and second baseman Alfonso Soriano, a veritable King's ransom in Yankees GM Brian Cashman's mind.
Trade talks stalled and the Yankees chose instead to turn their attentions to Montreal Expos starter Javier Vazquez.
The Boston Red Sox meanwhile, desperate for a World Series title after a heartbreaking loss in the 2003 ALCS, were determined to add a front line starter to their rotation. Though Schilling had some reservations over joining the Red Sox, he was convinced by Boston GM Theo Epstein over Thanksgiving dinner to join the club.
On November 28, the Red Sox traded left-hander Casey Fossum, reliever Brandon Lyon, and minor league starter Jorge de la Rosa to the Diamondbacks to bring Schilling to Boston. At his introductory press conference, Schilling remarked, "I guess I hate the Yankees now."
Curt Schilling won 21 games with the Red Sox in 2004 and helped the team win its first World Series title in 86 years. In Game One of the ALDS against the Anaheim Angels, the pitcher tore a tendon sheath in his right ankle and throughout the postseason would need to have the tendon stabilized repeatedly.
The right-hander pitched Game Six of the ALCS against the Yankees following a procedure to stabilize that right ankle.
In what would become known as "the bloody sock game," Schilling, whose sock was stained with blood from the sutures used in the procedure, pitched seven innings of one-run ball in a game that the Red Sox won 4-2.
The Red Sox would go on to win Game Seven, capping an unprecedented comeback from a 0-3 series deficit. They would beat the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, becoming the first Red Sox team to win a championship since 1918.
1. Alex Rodriguez
After a heartbreaking loss in the 2003 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox entered the offseason looking to shake up their roster.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein initiated trade talks with the Texas Rangers for a deal that would send Boston slugger Manny Ramirez to Texas in exchange for eight-time All-Star Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a Gold Glove shortstop, would replace All-Star Nomar Garciaparra—whom the Red Sox intended to deal to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Magglio Ordonez. For the trade to be financially feasible for Boston, Rodriguez agreed to restructure his contract.
The Rangers agreed to the trade, but at the 11th hour the MLB Players Association vetoed the deal due to the voluntary reduction of Rodriguez's contract. Red Sox President Larry Lucchino fumed, "It is a sad day when the players association thwarts the will of its members."
It appeared that the trade talks were dead, and on January 25, 2004 Alex Rodriguez was named team captain of the Texas Rangers. The designation was short-lived.
The very next day it was reported that Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone had torn his ACL in a pickup basketball game. With no full-time replacement on hand to play the position, the Yankees began looking for outside help.
On February 15, in a stunning move, the Yankees completed a trade that sent all-star second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the Rangers for the reigning AL MVP. Rodriguez paved the way for the deal by agreeing to switch positions from shortstop to third base.
In five seasons with the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez has twice been named AL MVP (in 2005 and 2007) and has hit at least 35 home runs with at least 100 runs batted in and 100 runs scored every year. In 2007, Rodriguez became the youngest player in history to hit his 500th home run.
From 1996 to 2003, the Yankees had won six American League Pennants and four World Series trophies. Since A-Rod joined the team prior to the 2004 season, the Yankees have yet to play in another Fall Classic.