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One of the great things about this offseason is that everything is developing so slowly that you can really get a good chance to speculate on the destinations of players. In this case we’re going to be looking at Manny Ramirez, the very polarizing player, with the agent who sometimes puts out absurd demands for his clients, Scott Boras. I think what we’ll find is that Scott Boras has a lot of work on his hands here and may regret taking Manny on as a client.
Manny Ramirez, as it’s been well-documented, is a bit of a headcase. He made such a bad reputation for himself that many teams shied away from even considering signing the guy. Manny also has age working against him. No matter how naturally talented Manny Ramirez is, no one wants to sign a 36-year-old to a six-year contract and probably not even a four-year contract. Manny Ramirez’s rumored desire for a four-year, $100 million contract will not help him in finding a destination either.
The destination that all of the sportswriters and ESPN are watering their mouths over is Manny going to the Yankees. And why not? The stories would practically write themselves. Manny would go to Boston’s rival and the writers could wax on poetically about Manny getting his revenge. If Manny were to make a mistake, it’d be magnified by occurring in the largest market in the country.
Manny would give the Yankees a big bat and someone they could put in the heart of the lineup and someone they can “trust in the clutch.” However, the Yankees are not that keen on signing Manny Ramirez. Due to age and contract demands, the front office of the Yankees is very torn and not very much in favor of the signing. The only way I see the Yankees becoming serious players on Manny Ramirez is if Mark Teixeira signs with the Red Sox AND Andy Pettitte can’t come to terms with the Yankees on a contract. I think in that case the Yankees would feel a need to make a move to show the fanbase the commitment to winning.
Another possible destination for Manny Ramirez is the team he ended last year with, the Los Angeles Dodgers. It makes sense, given how much of a spark plug he was for the team. However, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt is acting as if he’s poor this offseason and is reluctant to allow general manager Ned Coletti to make more than a two-year $45 million offer for Manny (this figure includes the buyout of a 3rd year option).
The Dodgers do have some young talent that are likely to improve next year in James Loney, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp and they’re likely to get more out of Rafael Furcal than they did last year. However, that would not make up for the offense they will lose if Manny Ramirez goes elsewhere. Remember, they do have Derek Lowe’s salary coming off the books, too. It’s too bad Ned Coletti made bad signings the past two offseasons in Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, otherwise the money actually would be there to sign Manny Ramirez. Either way, I still see the Dodgers as a strong contender for Manny Ramirez.
Finally, there is only one other team that has the money, the willingness to spend it and the need for a bat. That would be the team that just pulled out of negotiations with Mark Teixeira, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Given that they’re faced with starting Gary Matthews Jr. and Kendry Morales in the same lineup and their lack of major offense out of shortstop and third base, they really could use extra offense to keep the pitchers from having to always pitch in high leverage situations. Plus, they have the salaries of Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez coming off the books. Plus, they could give Manny days off from the field with the DH spot.
So given this, I suspect that Manny Ramirez will land out in Anaheim, and I suspect it will be a three-year deal worth about $20-21 million per year. I don’t see how any team can justify paying him more or as much as Mark Teixeira, who has positive fielding contributions and no risk of being a mental case, nor needing special handlers. The ability for Manny to get time off at DH will probably factor in if it comes down to the two LA teams. And of course, you can never count out Manny just deciding he wants to do his own thing and not follow Boras to the highest dollar. That would be typical for a guy who inspired “Manny being Manny.”