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Dodgers, Manny come to terms

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  March 4, 2009 01:07 PM

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Call it "Mannywood," the sequel.

Slugger Manny Ramirez, who became a fan favorite in Los Angeles last season after forcing a trade out of Boston, is returning to the Dodgers, the Globe's Nick Cafardo confirmed.

The Dodgers and Ramirez have agreed in principle on a two-year, $45 million contract, which is subject to Ramirez passing a physical and could be formally announced as soon as today. Ramirez and his representatives met with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, manager Joe Torre, and general manager Ned Colletti this morning in Los Angeles.

The parties took about three hours for the deal to fall into place.

"We got a great meeting," Ramirez told KCAL-TV as he emerged from his physical in suburban Inglewood. "I'm happy to be here. We got some unfinished business, and that's why I'm here."

"There was not one uncomfortable moment," Colletti said upon returning to Arizona later in the day. "It was more designed to put the personality back into the picture instead of just the negotiations. Manny seemed very happy and excited about the possibility, and I thought it was very good."

The deal was done yesterday, according to McCourt, but he wanted to meet Ramirez face to face in part to stress the importance of a charitable endeavor. Ramirez agreed to donate $1 million dollars to the Dodgers Dream Foundation to build baseball fields in inner cities.

When asked if Ramirez was happy with the deal, McCourt told Cafardo, "He's very happy. I really sense he buys in to what we're trying to do here. This is the most perfect situation he's ever been in."

Dodgers manager Joe Torre described Ramirez as "chomping at the bit" to rejoin the team.

"We all wanted the same thing and that's what was apparent to me," said Torre, who left spring training in Arizona with general manager Ned Colletti to attend the session with Ramirez.

"After last year and the time he spent with us, we knew we wanted him back. It was just a matter of finding that common ground," Torre said. "As Ned said, you talk on the phone and to different people, you need to get face-to-face. It was a real good meeting. There was a lot of comfortable conversation."

Once Ramirez passes his physical and the deal is finalized, he will become the second highest-paid player in baseball this season. Ramirez, who will be 37 in May, will make $25 million, second only to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who is due to make $32 million.

Ramirez has until November to decide whether to void the second season, which calls for a $20 million salary. The deal includes a full no-trade provision, and some of the salary will be deferred.

Despite months of frustrating negotiations in which Ramirez's camp rejected at least three offers from the Dodgers despite the apparent lack of another serious suitor, retaining the Ramirez remained a priority since his presence gives the club a much more formidable lineup.

After he arrived in Los Angeles at the July 31 trade deadline last season, Ramirez almost singlehandedly carried the Dodgers to the postseason, batting .396 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs in 53 games.

Preparations for Ramirez's arrival at Camelback Ranch were already under way. The nameplate on the clubhouse locker next to shortstop Rafael Furcal's went from being blank to having "Reserved ." attached to it.

"I had people calling me from the Dominican saying that Manny had signed but how they know, I'm here and I don't know. Then I came in and saw (the nameplate), and I knew something was up," Furcal said.

"A guy like Manny, you learn a lot of stuff from him. He's the best hitter in the game. Everyone is happy."

Ramirez's fun-loving attitude created a noticeable change in the Dodgers' clubhouse last season, and infielder Blake DeWitt expects the same again.

"He's one of, if not the best, hitter in the game, and a guy like that has a ripple effect," he said. "We have a great group and when you add a guy like that who has fun and keeps everyone loose it's just going to make it that much better. It rubs off."

Material from The Associated Press was used in this update.

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