The Daily Jolt is a does of baseball reality every weekday morning.
Manny, Manny, Manny. This offseason's most played out storyline simply refuses to go away, even with pitchers and catchers due in Arizona and Florida the weekend after next. For the third time this winter, Ramirez rejected a contract offer from the Dodgers Tuesday -- this one of the one-year, $25 million variety. Say this for Ramirez, he lives in his own world even when there aren't baseball games to be played.
Ramirez has now been offered more than every player except Alex Rodriguez to play baseball this year (the $25 million offer) and more money over the life of a contract than all but four free agents have gotten this winter (the previous $45 million offer from Los Angeles). But Ramirez and his agent Scott Boras haven't been moved, and indeed, have almost seemed insulted at times.
"There's players ending up with market contracts," Boras told the Associated Press after rejecting the Dodgers' most recent offer.
On one level, the disrespected vibe coming from Manny and Boras is understandable. Ramirez is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history -- a devastating bat and a surefire Hall of Famer. He also hit .396 down the stretch for the Dodgers, delivering the franchise's first NL West title since 2004 and its first win in a playoff series in two decades. Boras is the best agent in the game right now -- a man who has engineered megadeal after megadeal for his clients, including Mark Teixeira's $180 million contract in December. Why shouldn't the Cooperstown-bound slugger and his fierce representative get exactly what they want -- four or five years and nine figures?
It's never that simple. When Boras talks about getting his client a "market contract," he's really talking about getting him the deal they feel that they deserve. Sometimes that syncs up with an actual market contract, but in Manny's case it doesn't.
Sure Ramirez is a future Hall of Famer. He's also 36 years old. He's missed 70 games the past three seasons. And he's at the head of a very deep free agent class of corner outfielders. Pat Burrell settled for two years and $16 million. Milton Bradley, the AL leader in OPS last year and a superior defender, wound up with only $30 million over three years. Two-time All-Star Bobby Abreu still doesn't have a job. Neither does Adam Dunn, who has hit 40-plus home runs in five consecutive seasons. None of them have the track record that Ramirez does, but then, all of them are younger, and presumably have more years of baseball left than Manny.
Boras has tried to include Ramirez's name with the likes of Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe, but as great of a career as he has put together, he doesn't belong with them anymore.
No, Manny is simply the best bat among a sea of corner outfielders with questionable gloves, and those players aren't getting more than three years and $30 million this winter.
Viewed through that prism, the Dodgers are actually doing Ramirez and Boras an enormous favor by offering him $20-25 million annually, especially when there's no other clear suitors for the slugger.
Of course, we know Ramirez and Boras don't see it that way, and given all the trouble Ramirez went to just to become a free agent -- tarnishing his legacy in Boston along the way -- it doesn't seem like they're going to cave anytime soon. Ramirez is stubborn and Boras is patient to a fault. That means even less than two weeks from when camps open, we still haven't heard the last of this story. Not even close.
When it's all said and done, it's hard to see Ramirez getting more than the $45 million Los Angeles offered him way back in December. You can be sure Manny won't be happy. You almost feel bad for the guy, until you remember this is exactly what he wanted.
Once upon a time back in July, Ramirez had a pair of $20 million team options probably coming to him in the place where he had won two World Series and his seemingly annual pouting was tolerated. All that fuss and all that bad press just for an offer of a couple extra million, an offer that now seems to be dwindling by the week.
Suddenly the option years don't sound so bad, do they? If Boras and Ramirez aren't careful, they stand to lose even more money.
Sometimes you reap what you sow.
Daily Jolt: Manny, Boras in Danger of Drastically Overplaying Hand originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Thu, 05 Feb 2009 08:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.