General manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday the Dodgers made an offer to the free-agent slugger that would give him the second-highest average salary in the sport behind Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"If you saw the bid, it's nothing that we're embarrassed by," Colletti said at the GM meetings. "Manny was close to that number, anyway — closer to that area than the last place he's been."
Rodriguez currently has the top average at $27.5 million under the 10-year deal he agreed to before last season. Mets pitcher Johan Santana is second at $22.9 million under the six-season deal he agreed to this year.
Ramirez, acquired from Boston on July 31, is coming off a $160 million, eight-year contract he signed with the Red Sox before the 2001 season. Colletti didn't make public the length of the offer.
"We said, 'Think about it for a while. It's not going to be there forever,'" Colletti said. "Things are always subject to change, and it depends on what else we do, to some extent. I've been asked a few times here if we're going to wait to see what happens with this before we do anything else. But I'm not sure we're going to have the luxury to do that. If there's something else that comes about that we feel we need to do, and the timeliness is there to do it, we'll have to do it."
When the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs last month, Ramirez expressed a desire to test the market.
"I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I," he said then.
Gas prices have gone down sharply since then.
"I believe that was a prognostication that was of a 24-hour period," his agent, Scott Boras, said Wednesday.
Ramirez is 36, and the length of the contract could become an issue. Boras wants a lengthy contract.
"We have now established records with a lot of veteran players, where we're seeing players perform at very high levels into their early 40s," he said.
Boras maintained his viewpoint that MLB won't he hurt by the economic downturn.
"Baseball didn't invest in derivatives and sub-primes," he said. "Baseball has long-term contracts with national and local TV networks. ... As I've said all along, the hay is in the barn."
Also Wednesday, the Dodgers declined Brad Penny's $9.25 million option, making the 30-year-old right-hander eligible to become a free agent.
Penny, who receives a $2 million buyout, was 6-9 with a 6.27 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances last season. He was bothered by shoulder problems for much of the year and went on the disabled list three times: from June 17 to Aug. 8, Aug. 14 to Sept. 10 and Sept. 24 through the end of the season.
He was acquired by the Dodgers from Florida in July 2004 and won 16 games in both 2006 and 2007.
"This past year, between getting hurt and not being able to come back, we just didn't see enough scope of work, really," Colletti said.