DALLAS (AP) – The Boston Red Sox will have a whole new infield next season, and they’re only halfway there.

The 2004 World Series champions traded Edgar Renteria to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for third base prospect Andy Marte, giving up on the two-time Gold Glove shortstop just one year after making him the centerpiece of their effort to repeat.

“There was an adjustment period that may have lasted longer than you had hoped,” said Bill Lajoie, who was one of four Red Sox executives at the winter meetings in the absence of a general manager. “The Braves feel he will become the shortstop of his earlier years, and I hope he does.”

Renteria led the majors with 30 errors last season, his first since then-Boston GM Theo Epstein lavished a four-year, $40 million contract on him. He was the only regular infielder remaining from last season: first baseman Kevin Millar, second baseman Tony Graffanino and third baseman Bill Mueller are all free agents.

The Red Sox got Mike Lowell from Florida to play third and Mark Loretta from Milwaukee to play second, but they are still looking for a shortstop and first baseman.

“We came here to make one trade and we made two,” Lajoie said. “So that’s pretty good.”

Lajoie said he hoped to finish off the infield in the next two or three weeks. But then he might have to turn to the outfield: center fielder Johnny Damon is a free agent and left fielder Manny Ramirez has asked for a trade.

Left-hander David Wells also asked to be traded. Lajoie said he wasn’t disappointed that he wasn’t able to accommodate Wells or Ramirez.

“I like those two guys,” Lajoie said. “I like them on our team.”

Soon after undoing one of former Epstein’s worst moves, the Red Sox began rethinking one of his best. Lajoie said the team has considered bringing back Nomar Garciaparra – but not as a shortstop.

Garciaparra was one of the most popular players in recent Red Sox history before he was shipped out at the 2004 trading deadline; the Red Sox went on to win their first World Series title in 86 years. But he is a free agent now, and willing to play any position but pitcher and catcher.

At shortstop, Lajoie said he was looking at free agents who were not offered arbitration, a group that includes Alex Gonzalez, Royce Clayton, Pokey Reese and Rey Sanchez. Marte could wind up at first base or the outfield if it’s necessary to get his bat in the lineup, Lajoie said.

“We want to keep that player. … He’s ready to have a good year,” he said. “He would be one of the five players you would want to start a ballclub with.”

The Braves needed a shortstop after Rafael Furcal signed a three-year, $39 million free agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“We had a significant gap to fill, and we believe we’ve done that,” Braves GM John Schuerholz said. “As painful as it is to trade a player with Marte’s caliber, it needed to be done. The Red Sox got a fine young player, and we’re delighted to have Edgar Renteria with the Atlanta Braves.”

Renteria made the last out for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, when Boston won it all for the first time since 1918. The Red Sox signed him to lead their defense.

But he was a liability in the field for Boston and struggled early at the plate, finishing with a .276 average, eight homers and 70 RBIs. The Red Sox had been hoping for something more like the .330 average, 13 homers and 100 RBIs he had when he won his second consecutive Gold Glove in 2003.

“We were aware of it (the dropoff), of course,” Schuerholz said. “But we looked at his time in the National League and we believe that when he gets back to the National League in Atlanta he will return to the Renteria of old.”

Marte, 22, batted .275 with 20 homers and 74 RBIs in 109 games in Triple-A last season, and .140 with no homers and four RBIs in 24 games with the Braves.

“This is a throwback type of third baseman,” said Lajoie, a throwback type of GM. “This is the power corner that you hope will hit 25 homers when he does play in the majors.”

Boston will pay $8 million of the $26 million Renteria is owed for the next three seasons. In addition, the Red Sox must pay the $3 million buyout if his $11 million option for 2009 is declined.

Renteria contract calls for him to receive a $1 million bonus from any team he is traded to. He also is owed $3 million from his signing bonus, $1 million each Jan. 15 for the next three years. That usually is paid by the original club.

Also Thursday, the Red Sox picked right-hander Jamie Vermilyea in the winter meetings draft. He must remain on Boston’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Vermilyea was 19-9 with eight saves and a 3.05 ERA in 99 minor league appearances. Although he struggled at the end of last season, the Red Sox were encouraged by his performance in the winter leagues.

AP-ES-12-08-05 1737EST


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