Colletti indicates He May Not Wait for Manny

The off-season and the Dodgers future begins now. Outfielder Manny Ramirez was one of five Dodgers to file for free agency on the first day of Major League Baseball's 15-day procedural filing period for eligible players along with pitchers Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux, like Ramirez clients of agent Scott Boras, also filed on Thursday, as did Dodgers reliever Joe Beimel and third baseman Casey Blake.

The Dodgers have seven other players eligible for free agency -- Rafael Furcal, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Johnson, Jeff Kent, Pablo Ozuna, Chan Ho Park and Mark Sweeney. The club has one week to exercise options on pitcher Brad Penny and catcher Gary Bennett or buy out the contracts and grant them free agency.

During the 15-day period, players can sign only with their former club, but can begin talks with other clubs on issues other than salary.

General Manager Ned Colletti said he anticipated making an offer to Ramirez, but he had not yet met with Boras to discuss any of his clients, who also include Pitcher of the Year CC Sabathia. Length of contract figures to be the key issue in negotiations with the 36-year-old Ramirez, who has not-so-playfully hinted that he wants a term of five or six years and said he'll likely sign with the highest bidder.

The length of of the contract offered will be the key issue in negotiations with the 36-year-old Ramirez. Colletti wouldn't discuss what the Dodgers planned to offer.

"We'll convey our thoughts to Scott first," Colletti said. "I'm sure we'll get involved with that at some point. We owe it to the player and Scott to hear them out and for them to hear us out."

The offer is likely to be made at next week's General Managers Meetings in Dana Beach, right down Pacific Coast Highway from Boras' Newport Beach office.

Colletti denied that he would be affected by public pressure when negotiating with Boras. "The organization has to do what's best for the organization," Colletti said.

And with that in mind, he hinted that if there is a lengthy sales-event tour of Major League cities to showcase the slugging outfielder he wouldn't wait for a resolution in Ramirez's situation to start making moves. "I can't put the major league club on hold for any one player," he said.

Manager Joe Torre gave the indication that he would prefer to spend the big money on a top of the rotation pitcher. In fact, a source in an agent's office says Torre has convinced Frank McCourt the team's first need is to acquire a starting pitcher, so the recent talk about re-signing Manny Ramirez may be a smokescreen. Either that or G.M. Ned Colletti is out of the loop.

CC Sabathia, who is building a home in the Los Angeles area, will only cost the Dodgers money, and he wants to stay in the National League. Jake Peavy will cost them prospects in a trade.

"From the scuttlebutt I get," said Torre, "it will take some length to sign Ramirez and I think you have to think hard about that. He was certainly an A-No. 1 citizen and I enjoyed having him here. To say I don't want him back, I'd be crazy. When you're a free agent, you're not doing yourself justice without seeing what's out there."

As suspected, Derek Lowe had given no indication he wanted to return to the Dodgers and has mentioned returning to Boston if possible. The Dodgers have interest in keeping the 42-year-old Maddux, but he's also considered retiring.

Colletti said he had spoken with the agent for Casey Blake and has a home close to Cleveland where he will probably return. Beimel will be seeking a salary exceeding $2 million, and could leave now that Hong-Chih Kuo has replaced him as the team's primary left-handed reliever.

The Dodgers have one week to exercise options on pitcher Brad Penny and catcher Gary Bennett or buy out the contracts and grant them free agency.

The ever-present rumors have the Dodgers interested in Angels' closer Francisco Rodriguez. If the Dodgers miss out on Ramirez and Sabathia, so the story goes, perhaps they would turn to Rodriguez as their prize in free agency.

The market for Rodriguez appears to be limited, and he is believed to prefer Southern California. If the Dodgers' starting rotation is going to include three youngsters in Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and James McDonald, they might be best served by building their pitching staff from the back end of an already strong bullpen.

With Rodriguez joining Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel, Hong-Chih Kuo and Cory Wade, the Dodgers could dare opposing teams to grab the lead after five innings or try to beat that bullpen.

And the Los Angeles Times pointed out, "The team that will get the best bargain in free agency is the one that signs outfielder Juan Rivera to play every day. You give him 500 at-bats, and he'll give you 25 home runs.

During the 15-day period, players can sign only with their former club, but they can begin talks with other clubs on issues other than salary.

The complete list of free agents:

Cruz, Juan (RP); Eckstein, David (SS)

 ?Norton, Greg (OF); Ohman, Will (RP); Tavarez, Julian (RP)

?Millar, Kevin (1B); Payton, Jay (OF)

Cora, Alex (SS); Ross, Dave (C); Varitek, Jason (C)

Chicago Cubs ?
Dempster, Ryan (SP); Edmonds, Jim (OF); Fox, Chad (RP); Howry, Bob (RP)

Chicago White Sox 
?Crede, Joe (3B); Uribe, Juan (2B)

Cincinnati ?
Affeldt, Jeremy (RP); Lincoln, Michael (RP)

* Donnelly, Brendan (RP)

Detroit Tigers
?Garcia, Freddy Antonio (SP); Jones, Todd (RP)

?LoDuca, Paul (C)

Houston ?
Loretta, Mark (2B)

Kansas City
Grudzielanek, Mark (2B)

Anaheim Angels 
?Anderson, Garret (OF); Garland, Jon (SP); Teixeira, Mark (1B)

?Beimel, Joe (RP); Blake, Casey (3B); Lowe, Derek (SP); Maddux, Greg (SP); Ramirez, Manny (OF)

?Gagne, Eric (RP); Kapler, Gabe (OF); Lamb, Michael (3B); Sheets, Ben (SP); Shouse, Brian (RP)

?Guardado, Eddie (RP); Punto, Nick (SS); Reyes, Dennys (RP)

New York Mets 
?Easley, Damion (2B); Perez, Oliver (SP); Wise, Matt (RP)

New York Yankees
?Abreu, Bob (OF); Moeller, Chad (C); Ponson, Sidney (SP); Rodriguez, Ivan (C)

?Brown, Emil (OF)

Gomez, Chris (3B); Mientkiewicz, Doug (1B)

St. Louis
 ?Izturis, Cesar (SS); LaRue, Jason (C); Looper, Braden L. (SP); Lopez, Felipe (2B); Springer, Russ (RP); Villone, Ron (RP)

Bloomquist, Willie (OF); Cairo, Miguel (1B); Ibanez, Raul (OF)

Wilkerson, Brad (OF)

+ Blalock, Hank (3B); Bradley, Milton (DH); Jennings, Jason (SP); Vazquez, Ramon (3B); Wright, Jamey (RP)

* = Potentially eligible due to contract terms.
+ = Provisional election pending resolution of option provision in Player's UPC.

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