The Dodgers' on-again, off-again negotiations with Manny Ramirez appear to be on again.
Scott Boras, the agent for Ramirez, said he contacted the Dodgers Tuesday, one day after General Manager Ned Colletti told The Times that Ramirez remained "our first choice." The Times also reported the Dodgers had begun exploring possible alternatives in Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn.
Boras said he expected the market for Ramirez to start taking shape soon, with the end of the holiday season and the signing of Mark Teixeira, the most coveted hitter among free agents, by the New York Yankees.
Ramirez, 36, headed into free agency hoping for a contract of five or six years. The Dodgers, the only team to acknowledge making a bid for Ramirez, offered him two years and $45 million, then withdrew the proposal when their exclusive negotiating window expired.
Boras declined to say whether he believed Ramirez would command a contract beyond two years. He did say that he did not expect teams would judge Ramirez primarily on his stormy departure from Boston, with the Red Sox paying the Dodgers to take one of the game's elite hitters for the last two months of the season.
Ramirez, who arrived in Los Angeles amid allegations he failed to play hard during a contract dispute, helped lead the Dodgers to the playoffs by hitting .396 in 53 games, with 17 home runs and 53 runs batted in.
"I think teams look at what he was like when he was out of a situation that he did not feel was most pleasing," Boras said, "and at how he performed in an environment he wanted to be in -- much like the one he'll be going to. I think they'll look at the totality of the circumstances and realize the impact this player can have."
Colletti said Monday that he had not heard from Boras since Teixeira signed. Boras said he had not heard from Colletti since Dec. 10, when he told Colletti that Ramirez remained interested in returning to the Dodgers.
"Ned stated he would relay this information to the owners and they would have internal discussions and advise," Boras said. "Now, reading that Manny is the Dodgers' first choice, as requested, I have reached out to Ned to begin discussions."
On the day after that Dec. 10 meeting, Colletti said Boras had asked for a contract far longer than the Dodgers would entertain.
"We're not interested," Colletti said then. "We're not interested in doing five years, four years, [a] long-term deal. We want the player back. We're willing to pay a high salary to bring him back."
When the Dodgers presented their offer in November, Colletti noted the deal would have provided Ramirez with the second-highest average annual salary in baseball history.
That average since has been matched by Teixeira, at $22.5 million over eight years, and exceeded by CC Sabathia, also signed by the Yankees, at $23 million over seven years.