12/11/08 6:12 PM EST
Dodgers stay patient in Manny talks
Market for free-agent slugger appears murky as Meetings close
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
While the free-agent outfielder was visiting his wife's family in Brazil, CC Sabathia hit one jackpot while Mark Teixeira closed in on his. But Ramirez remains unsigned and made only token appearances on the rumor blogs. The market for the 36-year-old Ramirez appears just as murky with the Winter Meetings ending as it did when they began.
"Nine or 10 teams need a No. 3, No. 4 batter, and we've been contacted by a number of clubs about that," said Scott Boras, Ramirez's agent. "Clubs that need a bat will try to fill that in a number of ways. He is one of the players who could be the answer. We've always told the Dodgers he's interested in playing for them. Manny really enjoyed his time there."
The Dodgers finally met with Boras Monday night, ending a month-long silence. But the difference in years between what Ramirez is seeking (five or six) and what the Dodgers would offer (two, possibly three) is so great that the club didn't bother making another attempt, their initial bid (two years, $45 million plus a $15 million option) having been ignored.
Without the designated hitter available for a transitional role as Ramirez ages, the Dodgers are determined not to cave on the years and will employ a strategy of patience in hopes that a market doesn't emerge and Ramirez comes back at their terms. Patience also is part of Boras' arsenal, so the standoff could last for a while.
"Scott outlined what they will need and we're not interested in doing five years or four years, a long-term deal," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "We want the player back, and we're willing to pay a very high salary to bring him back -- but short term."
The general assumption on Ramirez is that whatever market forms for him will happen after Teixeira is off the board. Of the four finalists (the Angels, Red Sox, Nationals and Orioles), the Angels seem the most likely to entertain Ramirez as a consolation prize if Teixeira leaves, which would heighten the drama between the Southland rivals in a replay of the Vladimir Guerrero signing five years ago.
Boras has been known to bypass general managers and go straight to ownership, which is what was suspected when Angels owner Arte Moreno preceded the Winter Meetings with comments hinting at a possible Angels pursuit.
Since then, however, Angels general manager Tony Reagins has left only a little wiggle room when saying a Ramirez signing is "unlikely."
There are rumors that the Nationals could get involved with Ramirez if their rich offer is rejected by Teixeira, but there are even stronger indications that the club is turned off mostly by Ramirez's age as it is committed to youth.
"We are trying to build this club through development and scouting, through young players, through trades for young players," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. "We also said if it was a free agent who was young and in his 20s, [we would want him] to be part of the long-term solution."
The Yankees, always an attractive landing spot for a player seeking riches, have downplayed interest in Ramirez, a New York City native, while focusing on pitching. But they've shown they can be the 161-million-pound gorilla in the room when they decide they want a player.
Among the clubs that also might kick the tires on Ramirez are the Blue Jays and Mets.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.