On Sunday, the Dodgers offered Manny Ramirez $25 million for one year, which would be the highest yearly salary in team history and make him the second highest paid player in baseball in 2009. After all that’s gone on with the economy, his age and defense, and his personal history, it was an immensely fair offer – perhaps even too much, since there were no other offers out there.
Yet this morning, it was roundly rejected by Captain Evil, Scott Boras. I suppose that a rejection is a step up from just completely ignoring the Dodgers’ previous offers of arbitration and $45 million over two years, but this is different. Those offers took place way back in November, before the true extent of how bad this free agent market would be was really known. At the time, no one expected either offer to be accepted – but we’re now about two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to not-Vero Beach. This business with Manny needs to get wrapped up, now-ish.
The question, therefore, is: how much is enough? $25 million over one year apparently wasn’t. $45 million over two years wasn’t. As much as I’d like Manny back on this team, I have absolutely zero inclination to go over $25 million/year or over two years when there is just no other market for him right now. Perhaps Boras really does have another team out there; maybe he doesn’t. The point is that there’s no reason to bid against yourself, and I’m satisfied that Ned Colletti has done his due diligence in getting Manny re-signed. (I know!)
Remember, the problem isn’t waiting for Manny. The problem is having your backup plans melt away as the spring approaches, and it looks like that’s starting to happen. Adam Dunn has a standing offer from Washington; Bobby Abreu was just offered a one year, $8 million deal from the White Sox. What happens if they tire of waiting for Manny and each take the money they can right now? Then this team is stuck in one of two equally dreadful situations: having to pay Manny whatever he demands, or having to forgo Manny entirely and start Juan Pierre in left field.
Besides – and again, I do want to sign Manny if we can - would I really be all that crushed by not having to tie up $25-$30 million in one older player, especially when the Dodgers can be the Yankees of the remaining free agent market as one of the few teams with money and holes? Look at what both Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal had to say this morning.
I also don’t think Dodgers’ executives will lose a lot of sleep if he turns down the offer, because they appear to be the only team with $30 million or so available to spend, and with that kind of money, they can do a lot of damage in this depressed free agent market. Think about it: with $30 million, they could probably sign Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu, plus Randy Wolf, plus Ben Sheets.
The Dodgers could sign outfielder Adam Dunn, second baseman Orlando Hudson and left-hander Randy Wolf for the amount of money they are offering left fielder Manny Ramirez — maybe less.
Three quality free agents for the price of one 36-year-old superstar — not a bad exchange.
The Dodgers, suitably intrigued by the possibility, are talking to the representatives of each of those players, major-league sources say.
Think about that for a second. No, Adam Dunn is certainly not Manny Ramirez. But for the price of one Manny, you could add the best non-Manny hitter and the two best starting pitchers available? It’s something to consider. As for Hudson, I don’t see the point in giving up a first-round pick to block Blake DeWitt; but then what if signing Hudson for second base meant that you could package DeWitt along with some young pitching for Jake Peavy? I know I’d be okay with having Dunn and Hudson rather than Manny and DeWitt if the rotation went Billingsley/Peavy/Wolf-or-Sheets/Kuroda/Kershaw.
So let’s finish this. Let’s say to Manny and Boras, “there will be no more offers. We’ve given you three different proposals to accept (one year, two year, arbitration) and you’ve turned down all three. We can’t risk losing out on everyone else. You’re free to choose between any of the offers we’ve made until such time as we sign Dunn or Abreu, and then we’re pulling all interest.”
If that means that Manny ends up somewhere else for more money, so be it – I don’t want to pay him more than has already been offered. If that means Manny ends up somewhere else for less money, that’s fine too – it means that the Dodgers did all they could and Boras just completely screwed his client.
Besides, could you imagine what a nightmare it would be if Manny had to sign in San Francisco and their cold, windy pitcher’s park for $8 million per year less than Los Angeles offered? You think you’ve seen Manny throw a fit before, you just wait for that.