(PHOENIX) The Dodgers got their Manny, and all it took after weeks of wrangling was an early morning get-together bringing both sides to owner Frank McCourt's house.
Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers agreed Wednesday on a $45 million, two-year contract that keeps him with the NL West champions. The slugger can void the second season of the deal and again become a free agent.
"It's better late than never," Ramirez said. "It was a bad economy. I got a great contract."
The stalemate ended during a 6 a.m. meeting Wednesday at McCourt's Malibu home. The session came after weeks of protracted negotiations that included starts, stops, offers and subsequent rejections.
At times, McCourt's frustration with Scott Boras surfaced, with the owner describing Ramirez's agent as "challenging to work with."
But all that was forgotten when the parties met face-to-face, with general manager Ned Colletti and manager Joe Torre calling the gathering "comfortable."
Ramirez gets $10 million this year, and $15 million in deferred money with no interest. A plan the sides discussed would have it payable in $5 million installments each from 2010 through 2012. If it winds up as a two-year deal, the plan called for $10 million each season, with three payments of $8,333,333 each from 2011-13.
Ramirez has until November to decide whether to void the second season.
"Throughout his free agency, Manny directed me to pursue a deal with the Dodgers, and in the final moments it was clear both sides wanted to complete the process," Boras said.
Los Angeles' original offer was for $45 million in guaranteed money, including a $4 million buyout of a 2011 option, and gave the Dodgers the ability to maintain control of Ramirez over three years. It also did not include the no-trade provision.
Ramirez will make a $1 million commitment to the Dodgers Dream Foundation as part of the deal.
"We are thrilled that Manny wants to be a Dodger and that he has made such a tremendous commitment to the Los Angeles community," McCourt said in a statement. "We witnessed something very special last year in the way that our fans connected with him and the manner in which the team came together."
The left fielder was believed to be seeking a four- or five-year deal that would take him through the end of his career. He turns 37 in May.
When the Dodgers were eliminated, he said he wanted to see the highest bid.
"Gas is up and so am I," Ramirez said at the time.
But Ramirez found it tough going in a recession-plagued free agent market, with the Dodgers the only team to acknowledge pursuing the 12-time All-Star. Boras said aggressiveness by teams "was certainly accompanied by a focus on the economy."
"Sometimes, it's better off to have a two-year deal in a place you're going to be happy than an eight-year deal in a place you're going to suffer," Ramirez said.
Ramirez helped Los Angeles win the division by hitting .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he batted .520 with four homers, 10 RBIs, nine runs and 11 walks in eight games.
"We all wanted the same thing and that's what was apparent to me," said Torre, who left spring training in Arizona with Colletti to travel to Malibu.
"After last year and the time he spent with us, we knew we wanted him back. It was just a matter of finding that common ground," Torre said. "As Ned said, you talk on the phone and to different people, you need to get face-to-face. It was a real good meeting. There was a lot of comfortable conversation."
Torre, Colletti and McCourt joined Boras and the agent's assistant at the session that took about three hours for the deal to fall into place.
"There was not one uncomfortable moment," Colletti said. "It was more designed to put the personality back into the picture instead of just the negotiations. Manny seemed very happy and excited about the possibility, and I thought it was very good."
Torre described Ramirez as "chomping at the bit" to rejoin the Dodgers.
Los Angeles announced last week that Ramirez declined its latest offer, a $25 million, one-year contract with a $20 million player option for 2010. That deal would have included deferred payments of $10 million each in 2011 and 2012 and $5 million in 2013.
Boras countered with a proposal that included no deferred money, leaving the sides about $3 million apart in present-day value.
At the time the Dodgers acquired him from Boston, Ramirez's contract was amended to eliminate the $20 million team options it included for 2009 and 2010. The new agreement leaves him with a small increase but likely fell short of what Ramirez hoped to gain on the free-agent market.
Colletti initially tried to re-sign Ramirez, offering a two-year, $45 million deal with a buyout or a club option that was ignored by Boras and later withdrawn by the team.
The Dodgers' second attempt involved salary arbitration in December, but Ramirez said no to that, too.
Ramirez was MVP of the 2004 World Series -- Boston's first championship since 1918 -- and helped the Red Sox to another title in 2007. But he often failed to run hard to first base on grounders and repeatedly said he didn't want to play for Boston, which lured him from Cleveland after the 2000 season with a $160 million, eight-year contract.
But it was a different story after Ramirez arrived in what quickly became known as Mannywood.
Besides his hitting, he made a huge impact on the Dodgers' bottom line, with a big boost in attendance and souvenir sales, including No. 99 jerseys and fake dreadlocks.
Ramirez's teammates in Phoenix were eager to welcome him back.
"A guy like Manny, you learn a lot of stuff from him," shortstop Rafael Furcal said. "He's the best hitter in the game. Everyone is happy."