Welcome to Mannywood 2009
- Updated: March 7, 2009
The frustrating courtship between Manny Ramirez and the LA Dodgers is finally over. Manny’s a Dodger again, signing a contract on Wednesday. The slugger with Predator hair is expected to be in uniform and on the field by Friday (editor’s note: this was written on Thursday).
Frank McCourt flew back to LA from Arizona Tuesday night to hear from Manny’s own mouth if he can be a team player, in body and spirit, for the Dodgers. It’s an important question after four months of contentious negotiations between McCourt and Super Agent Scott Boras. Only after being convinced that Manny meant it when he said “Si,” did McCourt feel comfortable welcoming Manny back to the club.
And McCourt’s version of hardball with Boras (not a man used to losing negotiations) paid off:
Ramirez apparently is willing to accept the same deal the Dodgers offered last week — two years, $45 million ($25 million in 2009, $20 million in 2010), payment deferred over five years without interest, with an opt-out clause after one season.
Wow. Just a few days ago, this offer was called a joke by prominent Dodger watchers. McCourt was blowing it, acting like a silly child.
You can’t offer a player as good as Manny a contract with deferred payments and no interest! That absurdly unfair to Manny. Boras might have Manny sign with the Giants just to spite McCourt. And if the Dodgers don’t get serious, the scheming Yankees will finally do what they always do — swoop in and steal from Big Blue the best player on the market.
How’s that analysis looking now? I’ve said all along over at the LA Examiner, the Dodgers were playing this right. With no other serious bidders, the Dodgers had no reason to play Boras’ games and negotiate against themselves. The market value for Manny Ramirez was exactly what the Dodgers said it was, not what Boras wanted it to be.
Dodger fans might be quick to blame McCourt and the Dodgers if the happy-go-lucky Manny who brought energy and a winning attitude to Chavez Ravine turns into the surly Manny who got run out of Boston. That would be wrong.
In fact, the one-year-with-an-option-for-a-second deal is perfect. Manny’s got to behave if he wants to be paid well next year—or try to get a bigger contract next year. And if Manny decides to try his luck on the free-agent market, there will be no negotiating with the Dodgers to return. He either signs elsewhere, or simply returns to LA.
At any rate, we can finally stop talking about Manny’s contract status, and start talking about his production on the field. It’s about time.