Details holding back Manny deal
LA, slugger still apart on how $45 million pact would pay out
PEORIA, Ariz. -- A Friday noon PT deadline came and went and a deal to sign Manny Ramirez still hadn't been accomplished, the agent for the free-agent left fielder said.About an hour before the deadline self-imposed by both parties, agent Scott Boras and Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti finally made contact with each other via the telephone to speak about the pending counterproposal extended from the player's side on Thursday.
Boras' proposal is for two years at $45 million with all the money paid over the course of two years. The Dodgers' last proposal, rejected by Ramirez on Thursday, was for the same length and dollar figure, but deferred without interest over five years."I told Ned that we stand by our proposal," Boras told MLB.com in a telephone interview. "As far as we're concerned, there's no deadline. We're still talking." Asked what Colletti had to say about the proposal, Boras said: "We're waiting for their response." Colletti declined to comment about the latest developments when queried prior to Friday's game between the Dodgers and Mariners at Peoria Stadium. On Thursday, Colletti told a group of assembled media members before the Dodgers played the Giants in Scottsdale, Ariz., that the club had offered Ramirez a two-year deal worth $45 million -- $25 million for the first year and $20 million for the second with an opt-out clause for Ramirez after the first year. Then, shortly before 9 p.m. PT, the Dodgers released a statement from owner Frank McCourt announcing that Boras had rejected the offer. In a statement that said the Dodgers still want Ramirez back but don't want to negotiate against themselves, McCourt concluded: "So now, we start from scratch." Boras responded several hours later in an e-mail message that the two sides had agreed "to continue to have discussions until Friday at noon." The Dodgers confirmed that those negotiations would resume on Friday morning. "We exchanged three proposals over the last 10 days," Boras said in an interview with MLB.com early Friday morning. "We made a recent proposal [Thursday night] as I learned the Dodgers stated they'd offered two years at $45 million. I wanted to let them know that we would be accepting that offer in the structure that I'd heard of." Earlier on Friday, Colletti acknowledged receiving the proposal from Boras via e-mail, but wanted to talk to the agent directly before commenting on it. Colletti also acknowledged the now passed deadline, saying that the Dodgers asked Boras for a response by noon to their latest proposal. "They had no problem responding to us earlier than that, which they did," Colletti said. While the two sides apparently can agree on $45 million for two years of Ramirez's services, they remain apart on the way the compensation would be paid. According to a baseball source, there would be substantial deferred money paid over the course of five years without interest in the two-year, $45 million offer made by the Dodgers on Wednesday during a meeting at Dodger Stadium that included Boras, Colletti and McCourt. Colletti acknowledged that deferred compensation has been an ingredient of every offer the Dodgers have made to Ramirez, dating back to November. "Deferred comp has been part of the deal from the very beginning," Colletti said. When asked on Thursday whether the $25 million for the coming season would make Ramirez the second-highest-paid player in baseball behind Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, Colletti simply said, "Yes." Technically, that's correct. In actuality, though, the deal as structured by the Dodgers would have paid Ramirez $10 million for 2009, with the remaining $15 million deferred, according to the source. Boras' rejection of the Dodgers' fourth offer -- including extension of salary arbitration that Ramirez rejected -- in the process prompted McCourt to release the statement. "We love Manny Ramirez and we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves," McCourt said. "When his agent finds those 'serious offers' from other clubs, we'll be happy to re-start the negotiations. "Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer. "So now, we start from scratch." Asked on Friday what starting from scratch meant, Colletti said: "You'll have to probably ask Frank." While messages were being sent out to the media on Thursday night, there was some e-mail contact between Boras and the Dodgers, but by midnight local time in Phoenix, a club spokesman said that all parties had gone to sleep and were finished for the night. "We are continuing to work within the scope of the parameters established during our discussion Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, which included a two-year term and ability for the player to void the contract after the first year," Boras said in the e-mail message sent to media members. "Per that face-to-face meeting, we agreed to continue to have discussions until Friday at noon, which included our two proposals today, our most recent at two-years, $45 million. We are waiting to hear their response." The Dodgers' latest offer was based loosely on the original deal presented in November, also for $45 million and two years, but with a club option for a third year at $15 million and no opt-out clause for the player after the first year. The first year was worth only $15 million in that proposal. "We listened to Scott," Colletti said. "Scott wanted the ability to have the player walk after one year, and we acquiesced to that. We feel that was a major concession." The Giants are the only other team known to have negotiated with Ramirez, and on Friday in Scottsdale, Bill Neukom, the team's new managing general partner, said they were monitoring the situation closely. Larry Baer, their president, said during the course of Thursday's game that he'd just had a telephone conversation with Boras. Baer wouldn't disclose the nature of the call or whether the Giants had an offer on the table. Baer only said that the two sides were talking "concepts," and that those talks were ongoing. And Boras confirmed that he was having discussions with the Giants. Baer declined to indicate whether the Giants have made Ramirez a formal offer. "We're watching it carefully," Neukom said about the Dodgers' negotiations with Ramirez. "Nobody knows how that's going to play out. That's mostly up to the player and his agent at this point. I really don't have much more than that to say about it, because there's nothing else I can say about it that makes any sense or advances the discussion. We can go around in circles forever." Asked if the Giants would step up aggressively if Ramirez and the Dodgers reached an impasse, Neukom said, "It depends on the facts. What it breaks down over, if anybody can tell."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Ken Gurnick and Chris Haft contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.