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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?

By Cameron Smith  |  February 4, 2009; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Dodgers , Giants , Mets , Nationals , Yankees  
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If other teams were offering $10 million a year, the $12 million Perez got isn't a special deal. It's the biggest deal, but that's why he took it.

I don't dismiss the idea that Manny will go to New York (or, for that matter, here) despite the denials, but I don't think it will be as part of a secret package for Perez. If they sign Manny, it will be because they have resources and need him.

Posted by: pondaz | February 4, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I don't put anything passed Boras. The guy is a scary combo of clever/crafty/creepy. If the Nats land Manny, as unlikely as that may be, I will be very excited. The guy is a stud, he does not get hurt, all he has doen (despite this or that moment with the Sox) is win and he will put arses in the seats. Add 35 Hr's and 110 RBI, 100 runs to this lineup (which should already be better with some health and even moderate production from the the other OF's and some reasonable growth by Zimm) and its a different club. And after 102 losses, why not? The plan needs to include winning, winning begets winning.

Posted by: dfh123 | February 4, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I think that if the Mets sign Manny Ramirez, they will regret it for more than a decade. Too much money for too much headache for too many years. And if they do sign Manny, they will need to dump not only Castilla, but Delgado, Schneider, and another $10M plus beyond that.

Posted by: natbisquit | February 4, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who looks at Boras and thinks this guy is the Vince McMahon of baseball? He has his hands on so much of the top talent that he rigs who plays where and what teams will therefore be competitive. I would not put the linkage of Manny and Oliver Peres past him, or that if the Red Sox had signed Tek and D-Lowe to what he had been asking for, somehow Teixeira would have ended up wearing white at Fenway instead of prison stripes in the Bronx.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | February 4, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

This article seems quite slanted in favor of the Mets to me. Has everyone already forgotten that Mark Teireira is also a Boras client and got the most money of anyyone.

So perhaps Cashman and Boras have something cooked up to get Manny, but they need time for the Yankee haters and the media (same thing) to quiet down after they signed C.C., Burnett and Tex. GET GREEDY! GET MANNY! GO YANKEES!

Posted by: Donrmcm | February 5, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

If he was willing to sign for short term he would already be making more than he made in Boston. Problem is Manny needs a long term contract just in case. No teams are willing to commit long term. They are willing to pay him the cash but not give him the years. All you people who say Manny’s problems in Boston are exagerated need to remember that Boston paid him 7 million to go play for someone else. That speaks volumes to me. He was not only a problem it was worth 7 million to get rid of him. Say what you want but any team that commits to this guy for more than two years is a fool and the MLB management seems to know this. The sports writers and fans do not want to accept it.

Posted by: ricksterd64 | February 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

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