Dodgers Make Manny Record Offer for Manny

The Dodgers took a first step in their effort to re-sign Manny Ramirez, offering the free agent outfielder a two-year contract worth $45 million, two sources said. The offer includes a 2009 salary of $15 million and an option for a third year, according to sources who were not authorized to publicly discuss contract details.

General manager Ned Colletti declined to discuss specifics of the offer, but he did say it would represent "the most lucrative contract, in terms of average annual value (AAV), in the 119-year history of the franchise.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has the game's most lucrative contract, a 10-year, $275 million deal that runs through 2017 and pays Rodriguez an AAV of $27.5 million. New York Mets left-hander Johan Santana currently has the second-most lucrative contract, a six-year, $137.5 million deal with an AAV of just more than $22.9 million.

Ramirez is unlikely to accept the deal without first testing the open market, something he can begin doing as soon as Nov. 14.

"That will be their call when they respond to it," Colletti said of Ramirez and Scott Boras, Ramirez's Newport Beach-based agent.

Colletti also said the AAV of the Dodgers' offer to Ramirez exceeds the $20 million Ramirez would have made in each of the next two seasons if the Boston Red Sox had exercised his club options. Ramirez insisted the club decline both options as a condition of his accepting a trade to the Dodgers on July 31.

Boras is believed to be seeking a five- or six-year deal for Ramirez, who will turn 37 next May, but a source close to Boras said he would be willing to accept a four-year deal with an AAV of $25 million to $27 million. The Dodgers' offer still could be competitive given the uncertainty that any team will make the sort of long-term commitment Ramirez and Boras are looking for. A four-year deal would take Ramirez through 2012 and past his 40th birthday.

Colletti wouldn't say whether this was the Dodgers' final offer to Ramirez. "I'm not going to get into that," he said. "Our conversations (with Boras) were informative, I think, and cordial, and it was good to hear his thoughts and to be able to give him our thoughts."

No other team can make a proposal to Ramirez until after Nov. 13, the final day of the Dodgers' exclusive negotiating window.

Furcal Negotiations
The Dodgers, who have been hurt badly by injuries in recent seasons, told Rafael Furcal's agent that they had something closer to two years in mind because of concerns about Furcal's surgically repaired back.

Though agent Paul Kinzer said that Furcal's value shouldn't be affected by his surgically repaired back because he has been medically cleared by the doctor who performed the midseason operation, he was told that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt doesn't share the same thoughts.

Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, said 10 other teams have expressed an interest in Furcal, who completed a three-year, $39-million contract this season. He added that the Dodgers are Furcal's first choice and that Colletti had said they wanted him back.

The Dodgers need to get a solid feel for where their discussions with Ramirez and Furcal are headed before they start talking to their other players who filed for free agency, according to Jim McDowell, who represents third baseman Casey Blake.

The Dodgers are one of the three remaining teams on the San Diego Padres' list of potential trade partners in a deal involving former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, the others being the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. Padres General Manager Kevin Towers said it is unlikely the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner will remain with San Diego, which signed him out of high school in 1999. "The train's kind of left the station," Towers said.

The Dodgers don't appear to be interested in paying the premium to make a deal with a division rival and their presence on the short list is most likely due to Peavy's preference to remain near his San Diego home.

A Padres official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about trade talks, acknowledged that his team had limited conversations with the Dodgers. "They're focusing on a lot of other things right now," the official said.

Notes and Quotes
--RHP Brad Penny was told on Nov. 5 that the Dodgers won't exercise his $9.25 million contract option for 2009 and will instead pay him the $2 million buyout, a decision that probably ends Penny's 4 1/2-year stint with the club. The option carried a $2 million buyout. Since the Dodgers acquired him from the Florida Marlins at the trading deadline in 2004, Penny matured into a two-time All-Star and the ace of the team's starting rotation in 2006-07, winning 16 games in each of those seasons. But a shoulder injury limited him to just 19 appearances this year, none of them after Sept. 15. Several sources said during the season that Penny routinely blew off the customary pitchers' meeting before the first game of every series, and there were times when Penny's myriad outside interests - he owned all or part of several racehorses and openly dated at least two well-known actresses during his time with the Dodgers - appeared to take precedence over baseball. The last straw might have come at the end of this season, when Penny, who was unable to pitch because of his injury, didn't stick around for the Dodgers' playoff run. He had been granted permission to leave, but it was because he had requested such permission that reportedly didn't sit well with some club officials, including Colletti and manager Joe Torre. For the record, Colletti didn't completely close the door on re-signing Penny as a free agent. But Colletti did say "We wish him well, and we hope things work out for him."

--RHP Greg Maddux, who filed for free agency and might retire, added to his all-time record by winning his 18th career Gold Glove. That is the most by any player at any position, two more than Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson and longtime major league pitcher Jim Kaat. No other Dodgers player won a Gold Glove this year.

--RHP Hiroki Kuroda, who left his native Japan to sign a three-year, $35.3 million contract with the club last winter, has donated $100,000 to the Dodgers Dream Foundation. A portion is earmarked for the team's official charity, ThinkCure. Kuroda lost both of his parents to cancer and is hoping to generate support for ThinkCure in Japan.

--Chan Ho Park, in a press conference held in Korea Friday, he expressed his desire to become a starter, hinting he would part with the Dodgers. "I am very likely to leave for another team," Park said. "I performed well in my starts this season and I want to pitch for a team using me as a starter. It is questionable whether Dodgers will use me as a starting pitcher because I was effective as a reliever and a backup starting pitcher. I think they will want me to do those jobs if I stay with the Dodgers."

--C Gary Bennett, in a move that couldn't have come as a surprise, learned that the Dodgers won't pick up his $900,000 option for next season, which carried a $50,000 buyout. Bennett went onto the disabled list on May 20 with plantar fasciitis and also admitted at the time what anyone who was paying attention already knew, that he had the yips when it came to throwing the ball back to the mound. Bennett appeared in just 10 games in his first season with the Dodgers, starting only six, while receiving $825,000.

--2B Jeff Kent filed for free agency, but that doesn't necessarily mean he plans on playing in 2009. The Dodgers aren't expected to try to re-sign the 40-year-old, and Kent still hasn't announced whether he plans to retire. If Kent does continue playing, it likely would be as a designated hitter for an American League team because his range at second base has become extremely limited, especially to his right.

--Robinson Cano of the Yankees has interested the Dodgers with NY asking for pitching. However, the NY Post says the Yanks value Cano like his 2007 season when he hit .306 with 19 home runs and 97 RBI, not the 2008 season when he was .279-14-72 and it might be difficult to find a match.

By the Numb3rs
: 14 -- Potential free agents for the Dodgers, 13 of whom had filed as of Nov. 6. The only holdout was INF Pablo Ozuna, who has a $1.2 million option for next season, but the Chicago White Sox paid the $200,000 buyout of that option when they released Ozuna in July, just before he signed with the Dodgers. Among the free agents the Dodgers hope to re-sign are LF Manny Ramirez, SS Rafael Furcal, 3B Casey Blake and LHP Joe Beimel.

Quote to Note: "His primary focus will be at the lower levels, working with the kids and making sure they understand the work ethic and what we're trying to do as far as establishing a swing consistency and an approach consistency." -- De Jon Watson, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for player development, on the hiring of all-time pinch-hit king Lenny Harris to the newly created position of senior hitting coach for the minor leagues.

Roster Report
The Dodgers figure to be a dramatically different team next season. Although the core of young players remains under organizational control, there could be a slew of free agent defections among the veterans. One of the biggest decisions of the winter will be whether to pony up whatever it will take to re-sign LF Manny Ramirez or to spend that money on a host of other acquisitions that could make the team better as a whole.

Biggest Needs: The Dodgers must add a starting pitcher. RHPs Derek Lowe, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux are free agents. Penny appears to have worn out his welcome after he and manager Joe Torre made what Torre called a mutual decision for Penny not to have him stick around for the playoffs when he wasn't able to pitch because of shoulder problems. The Dodgers declined Penny's option, making the two-time All-Star a free agent, as well.

Free Agents: Pitchers Joe Beimel, Lowe, Maddux, Penny, RHP Chan Ho Park, 3B Casey Blake, SS Rafael Furcal, INF Nomar Garciaparra, 2B Jeff Kent, INF Mark Sweeney, LF Manny Ramirez, C Gary Bennett, RHP Jason Johnson, INF Pablo Ozuna.

Kent probably will retire, Lowe probably isn't interested in returning, and Garciaparra isn't likely to be invited back because of his history of injuries. Beimel will test the market, but he probably will return. Blake is a small-town guy from Iowa who enjoyed playing close to home in Cleveland, so Los Angeles probably isn't a long-term destination for him.

Arbitration Eligible: RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Scott Proctor, SS Angel Berroa, RHP Yhency Brazoban, RHP Takashi Saito, OF Jason Repko.

Once the Super-2 list comes out, C Russell Martin and OF Andre Ethier could be joining Broxton, who is a first-timer, and Proctor, who avoided arbitration last winter by agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1,115,000 contract.

In Limbo: OF Juan Pierre appears to be untradeable with three years and $28.5 same thing could be said about OF Andruw Jones. But if they aren't dealt, it won't be for a lack of trying. The emergence of OFs Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have reduced the once-valuable Pierre to a speedy fourth outfielder and left-handed pinch hitter, hardly making him worth what he is being paid. And Jones is worth even less than that.

Medical Watch
: RHP Jason Schmidt (shoulder surgery in June 2007) hasn't pitched in a year and a half, but he finally might be ready to return by the start of spring training. But given the pace of his rehabilitation, club officials aren't holding their breath.

Jones (sore knees) missed most of the final two months, but a bigger concern than his health is whether he will regain his lost stroke next season.

RHP Scott Proctor (sore right elbow) was scheduled to undergo elbow surgery in mid-October. He was to have a partial tear repaired in his flexor tendon and a bone spur shaved down. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

Infielder Tony Abreu. Underwent surgery early in the season and missed the entire year. Should be available in the spring.

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