11/14/08 9:11 PM EST
Dodgers pull Manny offer but will talk
GM Colletti interested in continuing negotiations with Boras
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Dodgers had offered Ramirez a two-year deal guaranteed for $45 million, plus an option year at an additional $15 million. The offer expired Thursday night, coinciding with the vanishing of the Dodgers' exclusive window for re-signing departing free agents like Ramirez.
"We still have an interest in him," general manager Ned Colletti said. "This doesn't mean we won't continue discussions. They just can't accept that offer flat-out. It's like any other free-agent negotiation now. We'll have conversations and sometimes you're able to sign the player and sometimes you're not.
"Our exclusivity ended yesterday and now they'll have a chance to hear what other clubs are willing to pay and for how long."
Scott Boras, Ramirez's agent, said Colletti was "very upfront" with the decision to withdraw the offer but declined to comment on specifics of Ramirez's free agency.
Boras, however, said the general tone of the first day of total free agency was active.
"The general theme is that there is more aggressiveness in this market than I've ever seen it," said Boras, whose crop of 16 current free-agent clients includes Mark Teixeira, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, and Oliver Perez.
"Usually, the first day you're not getting the number of calls at midnight [Eastern time] that we got this time. Not just on one client. I got eight or nine calls after 9 o'clock [Pacific time] from a variety of clubs and more today from a number of teams for a number of free agents. We're fielding offers on a lot of guys and the process is in full bloom. There's a lot of interest in a lot of guys. I won't talk about them specifically."
There has been speculation that the field of bidders for Ramirez will be small, possibly limited to the Dodgers, Yankees and Angels. Both the Yankees and Angels want to sign Teixeira, but the loser is likely to turn to Ramirez as a potent fallback bat. Darkhorse teams always seem to surface, with speculation this year suggesting it could be the Giants.
Boras envisions a six-year contract for the 36-year-old Ramirez, a long ways from the Dodgers' two-year guarantee. He points to the performances of Hall-of-Fame-caliber hitters like Willie Stargell, Henry Aaron, Paul Molitor and Pete Rose as they neared the age of 40. He also could have mentioned one of his former clients, Barry Bonds.
Length of contract could be decisive to Ramirez's future with the Dodgers, despite his remarkable 2 1/2 months in Los Angeles after being unloaded by the Red Sox. With no designated hitter rule, the Dodgers showed through their initial offer that they can't envision paying an outfielder of that age that much money for that many years.
Colletti explained that it's typical to withdraw specific offers without closing the door on signing a player.
"If you don't set deadlines with offers and they are left open-ended, the player can come back any time he wants and say, 'OK, we'll do that,' even if the club's situation has changed, perhaps by signing another player or something else occurring," Colletti said. "You've got to attach deadlines."
Colletti said he envisions talks to resume with Boras and Ramirez.
"At some point in time one of us will reach out to the other," he said. "If Manny is still interested, I'm sure Scott will call us."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.