As usual, offseason busy time for Boras
Major League Baseball's Hot Stove season began in November, with the annual ritual known as the Scott Boras Olympics. The list of high-profile events includes tightrope walking, the rhetorical high jump, synchronized catcher negotiations and the always-grueling salary arbitration preparation marathon.And now the preliminaries have given way to baseball's No. 1 late-January spectator sport: the ever-popular Manny Ramirez employment watch.
“"We've continued to communicate with Scott, and we still have interest in signing Manny," said Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. "We realize what he did for the city and the club, and we'll see if we can make it happen at some point." In the meantime, there's no evidence to suggest that Boras and Ramirez have strayed from a desired four- or five-year deal at $25 million plus annually. But that can't happen in the absence of competition. While Boras is a proven master at pushing buttons and stirring up rivalry-related paranoia, he's finding it hard to get much traction with Ramirez. Yes, the Giants are lingering, but general manager Brian Sabean is on record as saying a Ramirez deal would have to be "a perfect fit, year-wise and financially." Mets fans have been clamoring for Ramirez, but if GM Omar Minaya spends $10 million a year on a three-year deal for pitcher Oliver Perez -- another Boras client -- that will swell the payroll to the $140 million area. With that kind of financial outlay, the Mets can live with Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy in left field. Each day this drags on, somebody new weighs in with an opinion. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, Mets manager Jerry Manuel and Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa have all said exceedingly nice things about Ramirez in the past week, but all the headlines and hype don't appear to be driving up the price. There's a perception that Ramirez has that two-year, $45 million offer from the Dodgers in his back pocket as a safety net, but is that really a sure thing? Given the downturn in the economy and the languid free-agent market, an American League assistant general manager said Colletti might be "charitable" to simply resurrect his November offer out of a sense of civility. As a National League baseball operations man observed, "Manny wants $25 million a year? That would get you Pat Burrell and two starting pitchers in this market." As the hysteria quotient rises, Boras debunks the notion that Ramirez is getting antsy waiting for a home. That might very well be true, given Ramirez's well-publicized indifference toward spring training. "Manny is an absolute professional," Boras said. "This guy is working out in Pensacola, Fla., every day, doing his thing. Manny knows what I know: He's a great player, and he's going to have a job." The questions left to be answered are where, when and for how much, which puts Ramirez in the same boat with Oliver Perez, Pudge Rodriguez, Eric Gagne and several other Boras clients. It's a good thing Boras is adept at multi-tasking, because February is going to be one busy month. Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. Click here to order a copy. Jerry can be reached via e-mail.
Manny wants $25 million a year? That would get you Pat Burrell and two starting pitchers in this market.” -- A National League executive