With their rival New York Yankees reduced to envious spectators, the Boston Red Sox completed the acquisition of Curt Schilling on Friday when the acclaimed pitcher agreed to waive his no-trade clause in exchange for a two-year, $25.5-million contract extension.
The fallout could affect the Dodgers, who might be left holding the Thanksgiving carcass since Richie Sexson and Derek Lee, the first basemen they had targeted to fill their void at that position, might be gone by early next week.
The Florida Marlins traded Lee to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday for Hee Seop Choi, the still-unproven first base prospect.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, retrenching financially and now free of the $12 million owed Schilling next year, are expected to continue their aggressive pursuit of Sexson, who is owed $8 million next year.
Several industry sources reacted to the consummation of the Schilling trade -- the Red Sox and Diamondbacks had reached an agreement in principle Monday that hinged on the 37-year-old right-hander's waiving his no-trade clause -- by predicting that the Milwaukee Brewers would trade Sexson to Arizona early next week.
"The fact that the Diamondbacks traded Schilling doesn't adversely affect any of the things we're trying to do," Dodger General Manager Dan Evans said.
"What the Marlins wanted for Lee was too rich for us, considering the player has only one year left on his contract, but we've had a number of conversations with clubs in the last couple weeks and I think the market is there at more than one position."
No matter how it plays out for the Dodgers, the Red Sox have given the Yankees something to think about.
At a time when Roger Clemens is retiring and Andy Pettitte may be leaving as a free agent, the Yankees had dogged Arizona officials at the recent general manager meetings but refused to part with Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson in a deal for Schilling.
Now, the Yankees are expected to re-energize their pursuit of free agent Bartolo Colon while Schilling, 58-28 in his 3 1/2 seasons with Arizona, joins Pedro Martinez at the formidable head of the Red Sox rotation.
Larry Lucchino, the Boston president, and Theo Epstein, the general manager, had flown to Arizona on Tuesday to negotiate with Schilling during a 72-hour window given by the commissioner's office after the Diamondbacks had agreed to accept pitchers Casey Fossum and Brandon Lyon and two minor leaguers in trade.
The window was extended 24 hours on Friday, but the extension wasn't needed.
Schilling will receive $12.5 million in 2005 and $13 million in 2006. He has a $13-million vesting option in 2007.
The extension reflects Boston's expensive determination to unseat New York in the American League East.
Besides paying Schilling $37.5 million over the next three years, the contracts of Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek all expire after the 2004 season.
Schilling, who was 23-7 and 22-6 in his first two full seasons with Arizona but 8-9 because of a broken hand this year, described his departure from the Diamondbacks as bittersweet.
He said he wouldn't have been able to do what he did in Arizona if not for the friendship and competitive challenge of pitching with Randy Johnson --"someday I'll be sitting in my rocking chair and telling my grandchildren that I pitched with the greatest left-hander of all time," he said -- but also said he couldn't wait to take the ball for the Red Sox against the Yankees.
"That rivalry transcends anything in sports," he said.
Schilling, who said he will be donating $500,000 to the Boston charity known as the Jimmy Fund, acknowledged that he was influenced to waive his no-trade clause by the fact the Red Sox are expected to hire Terry Francona as manager.
The two had a close relationship when Schilling pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies and Francona was his manager for a time.