Manny Ramirez's agent made it clear Thursday that the contract the Dodgers offered his client isn't long enough, the first audible indication that efforts to re-sign the free agent outfielder will be a drawn-out process.
The Dodgers' deal would guarantee Ramirez $45 million over two years, according to two sources who were granted anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss contract details.
One of the two sources said the Dodgers presented agent Scott Boras with a back-loaded deal that would pay Ramirez $15 million in 2009, down from the $20 million he earned this year. Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday that the contract included an option year.
Boras wouldn't confirm the details of the proposed contract but wondered aloud why it didn't include more years. He has said that Ramirez deserves a six-year deal.
"There is evidence of major league teams giving a player that's older a contract for five years," Boras said.
The reference was to the five-year deal the San Francisco Giants awarded Barry Bonds in 2002, when he was 37. Boras noted that he negotiated that contract with Colletti, who was the Giants' assistant general manager at the time.
However, the determination of how much money to offer Ramirez is being made by owner Frank McCourt and not Colletti.
As it stands, the offer represents "the second-highest average annual value in baseball," according to Colletti, who otherwise refused to comment on the value and length of the contract.
It is not known if the offer includes a signing bonus, buyout or deferred payments.
In theory, the Dodgers could have offered to pay Ramirez $15 million in 2009 and $25 million in 2010, with a $5-million buyout on their 2011 option, a framework that would guarantee Ramirez $45 million, an average annual value of $22.5 million.
Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees has the most lucrative contract in the major leagues, earning an average of $27.5 million.
Johan Santana of the New York Mets is next, with a contract that will pay him $137.5 million over six years, an average of $22.9 million. But because part of that money is deferred, the deal is believed to be valued at $21.3 million a year by owners and $20.5 million a year by the players' union, who use different methods of accounting.
No other team can make a proposal to Ramirez until after Nov. 13, the final day of the Dodgers' exclusive negotiating window.
Contract length is also a point of contention in the Dodgers' conversations with shortstop Rafael Furcal, who is looking for a four-year deal. But the Dodgers, who have been ravaged by injuries in recent seasons, told his agent this week that they had something closer to two years in mind because of concerns about Furcal's surgically repaired back.
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.
The Dodgers want to get a 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 he expected to trade Peavy before the winter meetings in December.
But 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 this week.
"They're focusing on a lot of other things right now," the official said.
Hunter is golden
Angels outfielder Torii Hunter won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove Award. Hunter's eight Gold Gloves as an outfielder tie him for third all-time behind Ken Griffey Jr. (10) and Al Kaline (10).