ANAHEIM, Calif. – A pal of Manny Ramirez's(notes) considered the coming week and what may follow, how far the Los Angeles Dodgers have fallen, and the club's opportunity – now that Ramirez is on his feet again – to save the last few million of a lot of wasted dollars.
"Manny's days in L.A.," the friend said, "are over."
One way or another.
On Monday night, Damon hadn't dismissed returning to the Red Sox for WWJDD II.
And Manny was Waived Man Walking, though Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti hadn't yet pulled that trigger. It's coming.
While life with Manny in L.A. was often complicated – the drug suspension, the injuries, the dramatic loss of power, the blind idolatry, the consecutive trips to the National League Championship Series, the wig sales – Colletti's next decision will not be. Now he tries to turn the last few bricks of Mannywood into something useful.
At 38, Ramirez has nearly half as many trips to the disabled list (three) as he does home runs (eight). The trick will be to keep him on the field long enough to push him through the waivers process (48 hours) and, assuming he is claimed, through trade negotiations (as many as another 48 hours).
Ramirez has full no-trade rights, which adds another layer to a process that must conclude by midnight Aug. 31 if the receiving club has designs on employing him during the postseason.
Colletti, who did the right thing 17 months ago when he signed Ramirez, only to have the whole thing go terribly sideways, had several teams call about Ramirez at the trading deadline. The Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox and an undetermined NL club, at minimum, were interested enough to inquire.
Not only was Ramirez on the disabled list (calf strain) at the time, but the Dodgers considered themselves competitive in the NL West. That ship has disappeared over the horizon and sunk, as Russell Martin(notes), Matt Kemp(notes), Andre Ethier(notes) and James Loney(notes) all went under about the same time.
So, given more than $3.5 million remaining on Ramirez's contract, given the Dodgers are done, given they wouldn't consider offering him arbitration (so there are no draft picks at stake) or re-signing him and given they might pull a reasonable prospect out of a trade, there is no downside.
Ramirez makes sense for the Rays, though they are not optimistic about him reaching them in the waiver process (they'd have the 29th claim, ahead of only the New York Yankees.) If their claim – and they've not yet decided on that action – were rewarded, the Rays couldn't be sure Ramirez's body would hold up for two months. They don't typically throw $3 million at hope, which doesn't mean they wouldn't, or couldn't soften the financial blow with a prospect or two.
By appearances, the Rays did put in a claim on Damon, but lost him to the Red Sox, which found Rays manager Joe Maddon rooting for Damon's no-trade clause.
"What a great city Detroit is," Maddon said Monday, beaming. "There's a lot of good things going on in Detroit. I'm sure he doesn't want to miss it."
The Yankees are known to throw $3 million at less than hope, and they've been forced to rotate their DH all season. Marcus Thames(notes) has batted there lately. Lance Berkman(notes) hit .179 for them before going to the disabled list. Alex Rodriguez(notes) might need some DH reps when his calf heals, but that doesn't leave much of a bat at third.
A haven for players seeking renewal, the White Sox certainly have room for another. Who knows, Ramirez might even rediscover his power stroke at The Cell.
The Texas Rangers, temporarily without Nelson Cruz(notes), have had scouts on Ramirez, leading to speculation they have some interest. Adding Ramirez would lead to the obvious issue, however: To get both his and Vladimir Guerrero's(notes) bat into the lineup, one of them would have to play left field.
In the National League, whose clubs would get the first shot at Ramirez, the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves make some sense. The Reds just lost August pickup Jim Edmonds(notes) for an undetermined time because of an oblique strain and the Braves are getting little offense from left field. Of course, that would mean risking Ramirez in the outfield, which wouldn't help their pitching staff or his calf.