Manny/Boras Looking for "Serious" Bids

Manny Ramirez agent, Scott Boras, apparently dismissed the Dodgers' offer of $45 million plus an option (making the package about $60 million) for three years, reporting he is now looking for "serious" bids for one of his more treasured clients. The free agent market opened last night at 11:01, and teams began faxing their first offers to players of their choice at that precise moment.

Boras comments -- "On behalf of Manny Ramirez, we will, for the first time, begin accepting serious financial offers on Friday" -- probably put an end to the quest for Manny and the Dodgers can now get on with their search for a #1 starter, a hitting outfielder and a third baseman. And if Rafael Furcal -- who wants a longer contract than the Dodgers have offered so far -- is spirited away, they will also need a shortstop or second baseman.

The Dodgers will probably say good bye to 12 free agents and nearly $60 million in payroll, so they have dollars to spend. However, Colletti has said he would not wait for a resolution on Ramirez at the cost of signing other players who will be needed.

If, indeed, they give up on Manny, they can be a major player in the Sabathia lottery. There was never a hope of signing both. And when you weigh Joe Torre's words about Ramirez, you get the idea he would prefer to have a Sabathia in the rotation.

They would like to make a trade for Padres ace Jake Peavy but that would cost such a premium in players returned that it creates more holes than it fills. They would also like to re-sign Maddux, but he's more likely to retire. Park also proved valuable out of the bullpen in a comeback season and could return if he can't find a starting job elsewhere.

The club has been burned by long-term contracts for high-paid pitchers. Case in point was the $105 million to Kevin Brown, the $55 million they gave Darren Dreifort and the $47 million for Jason Schmidt, so taking a shot at a big name starter just may not happen.

Obviously, Colletti would like both Ramirez and Sabathia, but it would be tough to take on two $100 million-plus salaries at the same time.

Angels owner Arte Moreno sounds like he will not rule out the possibility of pursuing Ramirez if the Angels are unable to retain free-agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, their top priority this winter. But Ramirez is among the "Most Wanted" although the Angels are among the few clubs that can afford him.

Colletti wouldn't say whether the Dodgers' had made their 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."

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

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. Furcal could be back, and his asking price figures to be dramatically reduced by the fact he missed most of the season with a back injury, although a number of teams will be making offers. Beimel will test the market and could 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.

Catcher Russell Martin and OF Andre Ethier could be joining the group when the latest ratings come out.

Extra Parts --OF Juan Pierre appears to be untradeable with three years and $28.5 million left on his contract. But the Dodgers will try. Andrew Jones and his $21 million salary has been working out in Atlanta and says he does not want to return to Los Angeles. Obviously that could be arranged if he would just forego his salary and ask for free agency, but don't hold your breath on that.

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