Reports: Manny to Mets chances fading

With Sunday's 4 p.m. non-waivers trading deadline rapidly approaching, the Mets spent most of Friday flirting with a potential three-team megadeal that would have brought Manny Ramirez to New York.

But those negotiations, which included the Red Sox, Devil Rays and Mets, hit a snag when the Mets balked at picking up the remaining $64 million on Ramirez's contract and the inclusion of No. 1 prospect Lastings Milledge, multiple news outlets reported Saturday.

"Whenever general managers are talking about players, there's always a chance of something happening," Mets GM Omar Minaya told reporters in a conference call Friday.

The original deal, according to reports, would have brought Ramirez and Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez to the Mets, moving Braden Looper, Mike Cameron and Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff to the Red Sox.

The Devil Rays would then receive top Red Sox pitching prospect Anibal Sanchez, Milledge and top pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit from the Mets.

One newspaper, the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, mentioned Class-A righthander Gaby Hernandez as a possible replacement for Petit in the proposed three-way deal.

That same newspaper also reported the inclusion of Boston's Kelly Shoppach and Hanley Ramirez, with the Red Sox trying to substitute Sanchez for Hanley Ramirez, the organization's top prospect.

The New York Post reported that Tampa Bay infielder Julio Lugo was also discussed as a chip heading to the Mets, where he would play second base, and also included Aaron Heilman's name in the rumored three-way deal.

Assuming the entirety of Ramirez's contract is a tantalizing option, and if that were all holding up the three-way trade, the Mets might be inclined to accept it, even though adding Ramirez to the club's payroll would have put the club over the luxury tax threshold.

Ramirez is on the trade block in part because of a Sports Illustrated report this week in which the 33-year-old outfielder said he'd prefer to be traded away from Boston, citing privacy concerns in the Red Sox clubhouse. Ramirez also refused to play Wednesday night against the Devil Rays in Tampa because he said manager Terry Francona had promised him a day off.

Through 96 games for Boston in 2005, Ramirez is hitting .273 with 28 home runs and 92 RBI, one season after earning World Series MVP honors.

A career .313 hitter and a product of Washington Heights, Ramirez would make infinitely more splash in New York than Texas Rangers second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who appeared highest on Minaya's 'to do' list as recently as 24 hours ago.

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