Manny, Dodgers still at odds

Updated: February 27, 2009, 4:18 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHOENIX -- Whether Manny Ramirez has rejected yet another offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers depends on whom you ask.

The Dodgers announced Thursday night the star outfielder's agent, Scott Boras, had declined a one-year, $25 million contract with a $20 million player option for 2010. It was the club's fourth offer to Ramirez this offseason.

But Boras said he did not reject the Dodgers' offer, according to the Los Angeles Times. "They asked me to respond to them and I gave them a counterproposal within the framework of the structure we had agreed upon," Boras said.

At any rate, Ramirez remains unsigned.

"We want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said in a statement. "When his agent finds those 'serious offers' from other clubs, we'll be happy to restart the negotiations."

An apparent sticking point in the negotiations is whether Ramirez will accept part of his salary as deferred payments, the Times reported, citing an unnamed source.

"Deferred compensation was part of the deal from the very beginning," Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said at the team's spring training camp in Phoenix. "It's the longest negotiation thought process I've ever been part of. It's frustrating. This is spring training; we're trying to evaluate the club we have and get better."

Colletti said that he spoke again with Boras on Friday. But it was not known if the two sides planned to speak again.

Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would receive $10 million in 2009 and another $10 million in 2010, if he exercised the option for a second season, the Times reported.

Ramirez then would be paid the remaining $25 million over the next three years, without any added interest -- $10 million in both 2011 and 2012, and $5 million in 2013, according to the Times' report.

When making his counteroffer, Boras requested that none of the money be deferred, according to the report.

Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch declined to comment Thursday when asked how much of Ramirez's salary would be deferred under the Dodgers' proposal, saying McCourt's statement would be the only comments the team would make about Ramirez.

"We are continuing to work within the scope of the parameters established during our discussion Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, which included a two-year term and ability for the player to void the contract after the first year, " Boras said, according to the Times. "Per that face-to-face meeting, we agreed to continue to have discussions until Friday at noon, which included our two proposals today, our most recent at two years, $45 million. We are waiting to hear their response."

The offer is similar to the two-year, $45 million deal with a buyout or club option that the Dodgers put on the table in November. Ramirez refused the offer and the Dodgers withdrew their proposal. The team came back with a one-year, $25 million offer, but Ramirez turned that down as well. Ramirez also turned down salary arbitration.

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"Even with an economy that has substantially eroded since last November, out of respect for Manny and his talents, we actually improved our offer," McCourt said.

"So now, we start from scratch."

Colletti said there was not necessarily a hard deadline, and that Ramirez was not yet needed in spring training.

"With the season starting a week later, it's a little bit more flexible than it might have been a year ago," Colletti said.

The Dodgers open the regular season April 6 at San Diego.

One member of the Dodgers who was not talking about Ramirez's contract talks was manager Joe Torre.

"I'm not going to answer any Manny questions. You have about all the Manny stuff that I have," Torre said Friday. "I'm not angry or anything. It's just that with all the back and forth and stuff, I'd just as soon not respond."

Ramirez hit .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games with the Dodgers last season while leading them to the National League West title after he was acquired from Boston at the July 31 trade deadline.

The Associated Press, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and ESPN The Magazine's Eric Neel contributed to this report.

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