Well, Manny Ramirez certainly isn't desperate.
More than three months into his first free agency in eight years and coming up on his 37th birthday, Ramirez has rejected offers of $45 million guaranteed over two years and $25 million over one year, both in about the time it takes most of us to hand back the dessert menu.
“Thanks, I'll pass.”
So, 16 days before the Los Angeles Dodgers' first full-squad workout (never one of Manny's favorite pursuits anyway), Joe Torre appears a little short in left field (not a Juan Pierre joke) and in the middle of his order, and Ramirez appears a little short of quality suitors.
Sources familiar with the Dodgers' thinking Tuesday morning would not say the club intended to separate itself from the whole Scott Boras-Ramirez affair, having been turned down twice and still with a roster to build. Indeed, owner Frank McCourt and general manager Ned Colletti presumably knew this wouldn't be a simple negotiation, even if they were alone in it, and it does now appear they've made two reasonable offers, especially given there's no evidence of any others.
Dodgers management does recognize the club would be far better with Manny on it, so to turn its back in a wounded huff would be counterproductive. That said, it's February. And life is fluid.
“We have an interest in signing Manny,” Colletti said. “We don't have a deadline but these situations can change in an instant and either side can change them in an instant.”
In an effort to rebuild last season's NLCS qualifier, the Dodgers have re-signed shortstop Rafael Furcal and third baseman Casey Blake and in the coming days should have their pick of starters Randy Wolf and Braden Looper. Wolf, the local left-hander, seems more likely. That won't replace Derek Lowe, another Boras client whom they lost to the Braves, but there isn't much out there anymore.
What remains to be seen is if Ramirez's latest rejection is the moment that changes the course of two winters, his and the Dodgers'.
The sluggish negotiations with the Dodgers have been sprinkled by indications of non-interest from the markets Boras certainly would have hoped to have been players. So far, that would include the Angels, Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Cubs. The Giants, by appearances, have been peripherally involved, but not enough to make an offer of their own or to spur the Dodgers to dramatically improve theirs'. Boras would love to have some club parachute in and loosen the process (See: Yankees, Teixeira), but that hasn't happened yet, and might not.
Maybe Manny is willing to sit out part of spring training to push a deal, allowing teams to experience their own shortcomings in living color. In fact, you can be sure Manny is willing to sit out part of spring training. It remains to be seen if Boras views that as the best strategy.
This would appear to leave Manny for the moment without a team and without a standing offer. And at some point, you'd think, Colletti might have to turn his attention to other options. He could find offense far more inexpensively in Adam Dunn (who might be close to a deal with the Nationals) or Bobby Abreu in the outfield, or in one of the two forgotten Orlandos – Hudson and Cabrera – at second base. They weren't Colletti's preferences for most of the offseason, but a buyers' market makes everything a little more attractive, and a lot more affordable.
This much, however, is true: The Dodgers aren't desperate. And neither is Manny.