Dodgers make initial offer to Manny
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Dodgers have made their initial offer to free-agent left fielder Manny Ramirez, Ned Colletti, their general manager, said on Wednesday afternoon as the second day of this year's annual General Managers Meetings came to a close.
The offer -- believed to be in the neighborhood of two years at $55 million -- was extended to Ramirez's agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday night as the two sides met for the only time during the meetings, which end on Thursday.
"I'm not going to get specific about it, but it's an offer that would be the highest [average per season] in the history of the franchise and it would be the second highest [average] in baseball," Colletti said. "If you saw the bid, there's nothing we'd be embarrassed about."
The highest average salary in baseball without incentives is the $27.5 million a year over 10 years that Boras client Alex Rodriguez received from the Yankees last year. Ramirez's just-concluded eight-year, $160 million contract that he signed with the Red Sox on Dec. 13, 2000, was worth $20 million a year and Colletti did say that the offer topped that.
Colletti said that Boras had no reaction when the offer was placed on the table.
"We just kept talking," said Colletti, who added that the offer was not open-ended and might come off the table at some undisclosed point.
No other face-to-face meetings are planned between the parties here and Colletti said that he now must counsel patience.
"It's just a first step," he said. "I assume there will be some negotiations. I also assume that Scott is going to wait until he procures more offers from other clubs and he can't do that for another nine days. These things just take time. I've talked to Scott on Christmas and I'm sure I've talked to him on New Year's Eve. I've talked him on many winter-type holidays about free agency. It's just part of the process.
"Our job is patience, but our job is also looking at other players to see how we can improve the club."
At 12:01 a.m. ET on Nov. 14, the free-agent exclusivity and filing period ends and all teams can begin negotiating financial terms with any free agent. Until then, there can be discussions with other teams' free agents about parameters, including length of contract, but monetary figures aren't supposed to be exchanged.
The Dodgers, with 12 free agents, also have had discussions with two of their own guys -- third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal. Both said they will wait until the exclusivity period is behind them before making a decision.
Colletti also said he's yet to make overtures to Brewers free-agent left-hander CC Sabathia and has not spoken to his agent, Greg Genske. Sabathia, who was obtained from the Indians in July and helped the Brewers make the postseason, was tendered an offer by Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Earlier Wednesday, Boras characterized his meeting with Colletti as amicable, although he wouldn't disclose whether the Dodgers had made an offer.
"Our discussions were largely foundational and preliminary," the agent said. "I wanted to get a road map of what they're doing with their team so I could pass that information on to my free-agent clients. Certainly, we discussed Manny. They said that they were happy with him, and we said he was happy with them. So we had a good first discussion."
Boras also represents Dodgers free agent pitchers Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux -- who's leaning toward retirement -- as well as center fielder Andruw Jones. Jones batted .158 with three homers and 14 RBIs during an injury-filled season and doesn't want to return to the club in 2009 despite having a year left on his two-year, $36.2 million contract. Boras also has high-profile free agents Mark Teixeira and Jason Varitek, among others.
On Tuesday, he laid down his contractual view for the open market as far as Ramirez is concerned: He expects him to be recognized with the same length of contract and a similar rate of pay as Barry Bonds and Rodriguez.
"I did Barry Bonds' contract with Ned [at San Francisco in 2001] when he was a year older than Manny," Boras said. "Back then, there really wasn't a benchmark. But last year, when we did [Rodriguez's contract], the key negotiating point was that he be paid to the same age that Barry Bonds was paid. And so we have two extraordinary hitters in Bonds and A-Rod that were paid to the age of 42.
"Bonds was a franchise player who literally paid for himself with the people he put in the seats and his historic home run performance. Those players are like Manny Ramirez."
Bonds, the all-time leader with 762 homers, was 37 years old when he signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Giants after his historic 73-homer season in 2001. Colletti was assistant general manager in San Francisco at the time. A-Rod was 32 last year when he signed a 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees.
Ramirez is 36, which prescribes a six-year deal for him under the Boras formula. The Dodgers obtained Ramirez from the Red Sox in a last-minute, non-waiver trade on July 31. And although he had a major short-term impact, it's not as if they are trying to retain a lifelong Dodgers player.
Colletti said he's well aware of the Boras posture, but wasn't going to bite on the length of a possible Ramirez contract.
"I've heard the chronological age stuff," Colletti said. "I'm aware of all those premises."
Ramirez quickly became a fan favorite in Los Angeles with his quirky style and dreadlocks flowing from beneath his cap. He had a huge impact on the field, carrying the Dodgers past the D-backs to win the National League West and as far as Game 5 of the NL Championship Series, where they were eliminated by the eventual World Series champion Phillies.
In 53 games with Los Angeles, Ramirez batted .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs as the Dodgers drew 3.7 million fans, second in the NL only to the Mets. In eight postseason games, Ramirez batted .520 (13-for-25) with four homers and 10 RBIs.
Ramirez had previously won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.
Boras did say that Ramirez's short stay in Mannywood was beyond a positive one for the right-handed-hitting slugger.
"He had a great time," Boras said. "He loved playing for [manager] Joe [Torre]. He definitely enjoyed living in Pasadena. The whole L.A. experience was really a favorable one for him, very much so."