In December 2003, one of the biggest trades to never happen went down. Alex Rodriguez agreed to be traded from the Texas Rangers to the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, the blockbuster trade was vetoed last minute by the MLB Players Association. Their ruling was against A-Rod taking a voluntary pay cut. The deal would have landed the Rangers both Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester (who at the time was only a prospect). A-Rod would end up being dealt to the New York Yankees, but how would baseball history be different if the trade did go through?
In the 2004 season, the Red Sox snapped an 86-year World Series drought. That run included the Red Sox overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to defeat Rodriguez’s Yankees. Manny Ramirez would notably hit .350 during that World Series run. It’s hard to tell if the Red Sox would have won the ‘04 and even the ‘07 World Series with Rodriguez. In both series, Manny Ramirez played outstanding, coming in clutch multiple times. Jon Lester on the other hand would pitch pretty well during his time with the Red Sox, throwing a no-hitter in ‘08 and making 3 American League All-Star appearances.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, would move to third base and become one of the greatest players of all time. If this trade went down, two of the most infamous baseball moments would have never happened. In 2004, a brawl was sparked between the Red Sox and Yankees after Jason Varitek, Bronson Arroyo, and of course, Alex Rodriguez got into a verbal exchange after a hit by pitch. Pedro Martinez would ultimately throw then 73-year-old Don Zimmer to the ground. Months later, Rodriguez almost got away with slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s glove at first base.
It’s unclear what would have happened if this trade did in fact happen, but one can say that all parties involved – possibly with the exception of the Rangers – ended up better off for the first series of deals not going through.