Jason Bay almost stayed with the Pirates.
In the final minutes before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline, the Pirates sent their standout left fielder to the Boston Red Sox as part of a blockbuster, three-team deal.
As part of the deal, tempermental outfielder Manny Ramirez goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Pirates get four players — third baseman Andy LaRoche, outfielder Brandon Moss and right-handed pitchers Craig Hansen (RHP) and Bryan Morris.
LaRoche is the younger brother of Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche. Moss and Hason is from the Red Sox system.
LaRoche, Moss and Hansen will join the team Friday in Chicago, where the Pirates open a three-game series against the Cubs. Morris will be sent to Class A Hickory.
The deal came after talks among the Pirates, Red Sox and Florida Marlins collapsed. In the final hour, the Pirates were unable to come to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays on a Bay-for-prospects exchange.
Yesterday’s trade is the second major move by Pirates first-year general manager Neal Huntington. Last week, the Pirates dealt Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees for outfielder Jose Tabata and three minor league pitchers.
Of the 25 players on the opening-day roster, 11 will not be with the Pirates this afternoon when they take the field against the Chicago Cubs. That includes one player who was released (Matt Morris), three who are on the disabled list (Adam LaRoche, Matt Capps, Phil Dumatrait) and four who were sent to the minors (Tom Gorzelanny, Evan Meek, Nyjer Morgan, Ronny Paulino).
To restock a barren farm system, Huntington has received a total of eight prospects in two trades. The Pirates especially covet top-caliber pitching.
“That’s what we’ve desperately needed,” manager John Russell said. “We need to be able to help this team when things aren’t going well or when there are injuries. We need guys who can come up here, compete and stabilize the team a little bit.
“That’s been one of our goals from day one — to have a sustainable organization, not only here but throughout the system. That’s what Neal is putting together.”
The Pirates today begin a 11-day, 10-game road trip against four playoff contenders: the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.
Russell hopes that putting recent acquisition Jeff Karstens to the rotation — he’ll make his Pirates debut this afternoon against the Cubs — and the eventual addition of Ross Ohlendorf, who also came in the Nady trade, will give the pitching staff time to regroup.
“It’s tough going through the stretch we’ve been on — we’d get a decent start, then not a decent start,” Russell said. “It’s taxing on your bullpen. It’s a rollercoaster for your offense as well.