I love the way the Dodgers are trying to play this whole Manny Ramirez free agent negotiation. It’s going down exactly as I expected. Anyone who follows the Dodgers knows that Frank McCourt can’t afford to pay Manny the type of money he wants and probably deserves. At the same time, Manny is ridiculously popular with the fan base and McCourt can’t afford to have the fans be disappointed when the team doesn’t re-sign Man-Ram. So what do the Dodgers do? Exactly what they did Wednesday night.
In case you missed it, GM Ned Colletti made it abundantly clear to the free world that the Dodgers made Manny a contract offer. They used buzz phrases like “highest paid in franchise history” and “2nd highest annual salary” to sell the fans on their efforts. The Dodgers are trying to make it known to every reporter and fan that they are putting their best foot forward. They’re trying to position themselves as the good guys and Manny/Scott Boras as the bad guys when Manny goes to accept a longer-term deal worth more guaranteed money.
I’m guessing the Dodgers are offering two years, probably no more than three, at around $25 million or more per season. That’s fine for them because it’s short term and they can’t be hurt too much if Manny’s skills or interest start to decline. Everyone knows Manny won’t accept that; if he was willing to take a short-term deal, he could have stuck with the Red Sox and the guaranteed $40 million he was set to make with them over the next two seasons. He’s in it for the long-term guaranteed money — his one last chance to cash in. He’s probably going to get a four-year $100 million deal from some team. When Manny goes to take that deal, the Dodgers — McCourt, and Colletti — can say “We offered to make him the highest paid player … blah blah blah” and be absolved. They can say it’s not their fault that Manny and Boras are greedy. Meanwhile, I got headlines all over swallowing the Dodgers bait. Even Steve Levy on ESPN took the line and said “Colletti was refreshingly honest about the bid …” yeah, no crap, of course he’s being honest — he has a P.R. game to play. And so far the Dodgers are winning that war … if you don’t see the big picture.