02/03/09 9:55 PM EST
Boras: Manny talks with LA to resume
Slugger's agent downplays effect of economy on potential offers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Boras said that, despite the sagging economy, the fact that premier free agents CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira received massive contracts for seven and eight years, respectively, in length support Ramirez's desire for a deal longer than what the Dodgers have offered.
The agent said those deals, as well as others for quality free agents like Ryan Dempster (five years) and a younger Oliver Perez (three years) run contrary to the assertion that in the current economic climate clubs will not present Ramirez, who turns 37 in May, a long-term deal. Derek Lowe, the former Dodger, received a four-year, $60 million deal from the Braves at age 36.
With Spring Training opening in less than 10 days, even with Ramirez's rejection of the one-year offer Monday night it appears that the intensity of negotiations has increased. The offer was the Dodgers' third attempt to retain Ramirez, who in November did not respond to a two-year, $45 million offer plus an option and three weeks later did not accept the club's offer for salary arbitration.
The market for the gifted slugger has been murky, although Boras insists it has heated up. The Dodgers are the only club known to have made an offer. The Giants are the only other club to have acknowledged interest, although like the Dodgers, it is short term only. Boras said he continues negotiating with several teams on Ramirez but again declined to name them.
The Dodgers, with no designated hitter rule available to provide a transitional role as Ramirez ages, have insisted they will not provide the four- or five-year deal he is seeking.
Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt said the one-year offer was extended as a compromise attempt by the club that would reward Ramirez with the second-highest annual salary in history while allowing him to return to the free-agent market next year, when the economic climate might be friendlier and he would still be young enough to capitalize.
Colletti has been non-committal about what he would do for offense if Ramirez does not re-sign. From the current roster, the Dodgers could start Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Juan Pierre in the outfield. He also had touched base earlier in the winter with the agents for free-agent outfielders Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn, but the club's interest in them apparently had cooled in the past month. That could change if negotiations falter with Ramirez.
Boras brushed aside a comment by McCourt made earlier Tuesday that Boras had not given the Dodgers specific terms that would get a deal done. Boras said he has been "very specific in years" and "with the names of the group of players Manny is associated with, actually a group of one," referring to Barry Bonds, who received a multi-year contract from the Giants taking him to age 42, by which point the slugger drew a media circus as he chased Hank Aaron's all-time home-run mark and dealt with allegations of steroid use.
"We've had 40 contacts with the Dodgers this winter involving various players, including talks about Manny, and three meetings involving Manny," Boras said.
"I'm always available to meet with owners or to return every call and seek out every form of communication to try to advance negotiations. I've met with owners of the Yankees this year, the owner of the Mets, the chairman of the Braves. Directly, or indirectly, those led to three deals done for Mark Teixeira, Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.