On Manny: Brinksmanship and Conspiracy Theories
By this point, everyone knows the story with Manny Ramirez: He wants four-years and $100 million. The Dodgers don't want to offer him more than two years. Protracted arguments develop. Neither side is happy.
Yet throughout all of these public machinations aimed at bringing Manny back to the Dodgers, there's a secondary question of major significance: If Manny doesn't go back to the Dodgers, who else really wants him ... at least to the tune of anywhere near $25 million per season?
The answer to that may be no one. Or, at best, one or two other teams. Within the last day alone, the Mets, Yankees and Nationals all emphatically said they weren't interested in the slugging outfielder, under any conditions near the current contract parameters. In fact, the only team that's actively considering Manny Ramirez in any open way whatsoever is the Giants ... who just so happen to be the Dodgers' fiercest rival. If that doesn't sound like a franchise driving up the price for a rival, well, you're not reading enough into conspiracy theories.
It's hard to see which side of this bizarre soiret will blink first. Just when it looks like the Dodgers are sticking to their guns, they offer Manny a new contract offer worth more annual money -- $25 million for one season instead of $45 million for two -- and Ramirez (or, more likely, agent Scott Boras) dismisses it as soon as he hears of it.
Yet, there's a small part of everyone's imagination that has to believe that Boras knows something the rest of us don't, isn't there? Boras always seems to have an ace up his sleeve in negotiations for his clients, and one need look no farther back than Mark Teixeira's contract talks, where the Yankees swooped in to steal the slugger days before Christmas, to see proof of that.
So who's the mystery team in this case? One can make a case that, despite the constant protestations of GM Omar Minaya to the contrary, that team is the Mets. Minaya has openly coveted Ramirez in the past. The team could really use a corner outfield bat, and there's no one better than Ramirez to fill that spot. Add to that the homecoming effect of Ramirez heading back to his boyhood home of New York City (albeit not in his home borough of the Bronx), and it's a readymade big ticket story.
Add to that the concept of a Boras package deal, and we've got a full-fledged conspiracy theory on our hands.
What do we mean about a "package deal"? It's a concept that's been floated with Boras clients before. When the Red Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka before the 2007 season, Boras openly scoffed at the terms they proposed, despite the fact that only Boston could bid on the Japanese ace because of the posting system. Then, suddenly, the Red Sox ligned up a massive contract for outfielder J.D. Drew, despite the fact that they were all but certainly the only team pushing to sign him.
Not shockingly, Matsuzaka eventually signed a deal with the Red Sox a week or so later. The connection? Both players are represented by Boras.
Flip the script to the current day, and check out contract over the past week. The Mets sign pitcher Oliver Perez to a three-year contract for $36 million, despite questions of whether any other teams were willing to offer him more than $9-10 million per season.
Is it possible that's all a prelude to the Mets stealing Manny from under the Dodgers' nose? That probably all depends on whether you believe in conspiracy theories or not. If you do, jump on board. If not, well, then you'll probably be seeing Ramirez back in Dodger blue this spring, on one contract or another.
So, what do people think? Shot in the dark or legitimate possibility? Where will Manny end up in the end? And what kind of a contract will the slugger get?
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