After months of very public negotiations, star outfielder Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers have agreed to terms on a two-year, $45 million contract. According to MLB.com, Ramirez accepted the same deal that he had rejected only a week ago. He’ll make $25 million in 2009 and and $20 million next year, and can opt out of his contract after the 2009 season if he so chooses. Deferred payments had been an issue in the negotiations, and in the end, Manny will get his $45 million over the course of five years if he stays with the Dodgers through 2010.
Manny won a pair of World Series titles with the Red Sox but sulked his way out of Boston last summer. After being traded to the Dodgers, he hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBI in as many games, and received MVP consideration for leading the team to the postseason. One of the safest bets to produce big numbers on a yearly basis, Manny has hit 30 or more homers and knocked in 100 or more runs in nine of the last 10 seasons, with the lone exception being 2007 when he managed just 20 homers and 88 RBI. He’s currently 17th on the all-time home run list with 527.
The Dodgers were basically bidding against themselves for Manny’s services, but it’s likely they’ll get their money’s worth. Manny was arguably the best hitter in baseball last season and keeping him around makes the Dodgers legitimate World Series contenders. He’s a great draw, and Manny merchandise was immensely popular at Dodger Stadium last summer. Motivation has always been an issue with Manny, and the fact that a big year would allow him to opt out and potentially score an even bigger deal next offseason should ensure that won’t be a problem.
It’s a good deal for Manny as well. No, he didn’t get the five- or six-year deal he’d been hoping for, but the $45 million he’ll get from the Dodgers if he sticks around for two years is more than the $40 million he’d have gotten over the same time period if he’d finished up his contract with Boston. The $25 million he’ll get in 2009 is nothing to sneeze at, and he and agent Scott Boras can chase the big money once again next offseason if they so choose. Besides, LA seems to agree with Manny. The pressure and lack of privacy got to him in Boston, but he appeared to truly enjoy - and thrive in - the West Coast atmosphere.
Provided he passes his physical, Manny should be in Dodgers camp within the next few days.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by the Associated Press