Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez reflects on nearly being traded to Yankees

Boston Red Sox's legend Pedro Martinez wanted to join the Yankees in 1997
Amanda Paula
Sunday June 16, 2024

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Considered one of the best players in recent Red Sox history, Pedro Martinez never hid his desire to play for the New York Yankees.

In a recent interview with MLB Network, Pedro Martinez, disclosed once more that he had requested a trade to the New York Yankees in 1997. Martinez, now a studio analyst for MLB Network, reflected on this pivotal moment and its profound impact on his illustrious career.

Pedro Martinez initially envisioned himself playing for the Yankees.

“When they asked me at the end of ’97, after I won the Cy Young, where I’d most like to go, I said New York,” Martinez recounted. “If not New York, then Baltimore. If not Baltimore, I would’ve loved to go to Atlanta, but they didn’t need me—they had great pitchers.”

Why did Pedro Martinez choose the Red Sox over the Yankees?

Boston Red Sox's legend Pedro Martinez wanted to join the Yankees in 1997

However, it was the Boston Red Sox that ultimately secured Pedro Martinez’s services. Desperate for an ace to lead their pitching staff after Roger Clemens’ departure, Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette orchestrated a trade with the Montreal Expos. The deal sent young pitchers Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Expos in exchange for the then-26-year-old Martinez, who had just clinched the National League Cy Young Award.

Pedro Martinez’s arrival in Boston marked the beginning of a ‘golden’ era. Over the next few years, he won two more Cy Young Awards and delivered one of the most dominant performances by any pitcher in the steroid era. He was instrumental in the Red Sox’s 2004 World Series victory, which ended the franchise’s 86-year championship drought.

Two critical factors shaped this trade. First, Martinez was set to become a free agent after the 1998 season, and the Expos couldn’t afford a high-priced contract. Second, Dan Duquette, then the Red Sox’s general manager, had a history with Martinez. In 1993, as the Expos’ GM, Duquette had traded for Martinez from the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1998, now with Boston, Duquette secured a six-year, $75 million contract extension for Martinez.

This trade turned out to be one of the best in Red Sox history. Pedro Martinez’s achievements, including two additional Cy Young Awards and his role in the 2004 World Series win, solidified his legacy as one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history.

Up Next

Tonight, the Yankees will face the Red Sox once more. After winning the series opener, the Yankees lost on Saturday, tying the series. The game starts at 7:10 PM EST at Fenway Park in Boston. Fans can watch the action on YES Network if they’re in the US.

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