Dodgers sign Manny to two-year deal
Long negotiation process ends with $45 million contract
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers have re-signed free-agent left fielder Manny Ramirez to a two-year, $45 million contract, the club announced on Wednesday.The deal was closed during an early morning meeting at the Malibu, Calif., home of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt that was attended among others by Ramirez, his agents Scott Boras and Mike Fiore, general manager Ned Colletti and manager Joe Torre, the latter duo flying in from Spring Training camp on Tuesday night for the session.
Ramirez is expected to meet with the media at a news conference Thursday at 12:30 p.m. ET at Camelback Ranch. MLB.com will provide live coverage of the news conference.
"We are thrilled that Manny wants to be a Dodger and that he has made such a tremendous commitment to the Los Angeles community," McCourt said. "We witnessed something very special last year in the way that our fans connected with him and the manner in which the team came together. Now, we focus our complete and undivided attention on our primary goal -- winning a world championship."
Torre and Colletti arrived back in Phoenix just before the start of Wednesday's Cactus League game between the Dodgers and Giants at Camelback Ranch. And both men were ebullient about what transpired at the hastily arranged meeting, which began at 6 a.m. PT and lasted about two-and-half hours.Ramirez passed his physical later in the day. "The meeting went well," Colletti said. "It was really designed to get the personality back into the picture rather than just a negotiation, which was more than four months in transpiring. I thought it went great. Manny seemed very happy and excited about the possibility. I thought it was very, very good." Ramirez accepted a similar deal to the one the Dodgers offered at a meeting of the principals in his Dodger Stadium office this past Wednesday -- two years, $45 million ($25 million in 2009, $20 million in 2010) with a player option after the first year. If Ramirez decides to stay, payment will be deferred over five years without interest at $10 million each for the first two years and $8.33 million each for the next three years. If he opts out, he'll receive $25 million over the course of four years, $10 million, $5 million, $5 million and $5 million. Boras, who wouldn't let the deal die despite some bruised feelings, regarding the direction of the negotiations, seemed relieved on Wednesday that it was done.
Manny Ramirez's 2008 Dodgers stats
|A look at how Manny Ramirez did upon joining the Dodgers at last season's Trade Deadline:|
"It was a good, productive meeting that broadened the horizons of Frank and Manny's relationship," Boras said in a telephone interview with MLB.com. "They're on their way to defining each other in their respective positions in baseball."Torre said he anticipated it would "take a week" to get Ramirez ready for game action. "We have plenty of time left," Torre said. "I wasn't worried about the period of time he wasn't here because I know he takes his conditioning seriously." Torre was summoned back to Los Angeles along with Colletti for what turned out to be the final negotiating session in a 4 1/2-month effort to bring the free agent back to the Dodgers. Last year, he batted .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games, leading the Dodgers as far as the National League Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series-winning Phillies. The manager, who has taken his teams into the playoffs 13 consecutive seasons (1996-2007 with the Yankees), laughed when it was suggested he was brought in as the closer, a la Mariano Rivera.
"I don't know about closing the deal," Torre said. "We all wanted the same thing. That seemed to be apparent to me. Manny was comfortable here. After last year and the time he spent with us, we knew we wanted him back. It was just a matter of trying to find that common ground. You talk on the phone and you talk through the different people, the thing was to get face-to-face, for all of us."And Manny, I couldn't have been more pleased with how excited he was and just the prospects of getting back out on the field again." Boras met for six hours with McCourt on Tuesday, not so much to bridge the gap financially, but to bridge it philosophically. After the details were essentially in place, both sides decided that the deal could not be completed until all primary parties met face-to-face in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Ramirez flew in from Florida on Tuesday night for that express purpose.
Average annual value
|The highest-paid players in baseball history, by average annual value:|
|1. Roger Clemens||$28,000,022||(2007)|
|2. Alex Rodriguez||$27,500,000||(2008-17)|
|3. Alex Rodriguez||$25,200,000||(2001-10)|
|4. CC Sabathia||$23,000,000||(2009-15)|
|5. Johan Santana||$22,916,667||(2008-13)|
|6. Mark Teixeira||$22,500,000||(2009-16)|
|6. Manny Ramirez||$22,500,000||(2009-10)|
|8. Roger Clemens||$22,000,022||(2006)|
|9. Manny Ramirez||$20,000,000||(2001-08)|
|10. Miguel Cabrera||$19,037,500||(2008-15)|
Ramirez, 37 in May, originally sought a contract length of six years at a salary in the Alex Rodriguez neighborhood ($27.5 million a year). The Dodgers initially offered two years at $45 million plus a $15 million third-year option. They also offered salary arbitration, then made a one-year offer of $25 million before presenting an offer last week loosely based on the original two-year, $45 million deal, but dropping a third-year option year in favor of the team and adding the player opt-out clause at the request of Boras.The negotiations broke down Thursday when Boras evidently rejected the Dodgers' proposal. McCourt said at the time that when they resumed, they would have to "start from scratch." Boras made three proposals on behalf of Ramirez to bridge the gap between the two principal offers. The Dodgers wanted two years for $45 million with $25 million deferred without interest. Ramirez wanted two years for $45 million paid over two years. On Saturday at the direction of Ramirez, Boras made an offer that reduced the difference in the deferred compensation from $3 million to $1.5 million. Ramirez would be 38 when the contract expires, so in the end the Dodgers satisfied their strategy not to commit into his 40s without having the designated hitter available for a transitional role. The Dodgers' outfield this season would again consist of Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, with Juan Pierre squeezed out of a starting role. From Ramirez's point of a view, if he has another banner year, he can opt out of the contract and try free agency again next offseason, hoping that the economy stabilizes. Ramirez captured the imagination of the Los Angeles area and its fans in 2008 like no Dodger since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. It's no wonder the Dodgers wanted him back. The meeting seemed to accomplish that quest. "It was for everybody," Colletti said. "It wasn't for one individual or two individuals. We're really trying to build a team here. A team that sticks together, fights together and is built together. He was a very important member of the team. If we met for an hour and a half, there wasn't one uncomfortable moment in the whole thing."
Ken Gurnick and Barry M. Bloom are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.