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Begging to Defer

February 28, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

PEORIA, ARIZ. — While the counteroffer presented by Manny Ramirez's representatives sat on the table Friday night, multiple sources in the Dodgers' organization wondered aloud how owner Frank McCourt's personal feelings toward agent Scott Boras could affect the club's pursuit of the popular outfielder.

Boras, who was taking in a college baseball game in Los Angeles, said he was still waiting to hear back from the Dodgers about the proposal he made them the previous day: two years at $45 million with an opt-out clause that Ramirez could exercise at the end of the first year.

The terms of the offer were almost identical to the one Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said he and McCourt presented to Boras on Wednesday, a day before the Dodgers' owner started a war of words with the influential agent that was fought over a couple of late-night news releases. Like the contract offer by the Dodgers, Boras' proposal was for $25 million this year and a $20-million player option for 2010.

But the fine print of Boras' proposed deal was significantly different from McCourt's in that it requested that no part of Ramirez's salary be deferred. McCourt wanted to defer most of Ramirez's salary, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were still in progress.

Under the terms of the contract that Ramirez was offered by the Dodgers on Wednesday, he would have received $10 million this year. And by exercising the option for the second year of the deal, he would've received $10 million in 2010.

Ramirez would have been paid the remaining $25 million over the next three years without any added interest. He would've received $10 million in 2011, $10 million in 2012 and $5 million in 2013.

Asked if the Dodgers had any problems with cash flow or concerns about their projected revenues that would deter them from paying Ramirez's entire salary in the year it was earned, spokesman Charles Steinberg replied, "I have no idea."

Colletti acknowledged Friday that the Dodgers' offer included deferred payments but refused to detail them.

"The deferred component was part of the deal from the very beginning," Colletti said.

Boras acknowledged that, saying it was why he asked for more money in his initial counterproposal to the Dodgers' latest offer. Boras requested a two-year, $55-million contract that included a player option for the second year, according to sources.

The Dodgers offered a different view of what happened, with club sources indicating that Boras requested the deferrals, knowing that doing so would allow him to ask for a greater sum of money.

The sources said Boras wanted to land Ramirez a deal that he could boast matched the average salary of $27.5 million to Alex Rodriguez, the highest in baseball.

Boras' counteroffer upset McCourt, according to sources, and prompted him to launch an attack on the agent in a news release sent by the Dodgers on Thursday night. The subject line of the mass e-mail read, "Boras rejects Dodgers offer to Manny Ramirez."

The Dodgers' news release included this quote from McCourt: "We love Manny Ramirez. And we want Manny back, but we feel we are negotiating against ourselves. When his agent finds those 'serious offers' from other clubs, we'll be happy to restart the negotiations."

The final sentence of that paragraph was a reference to Boras' response to the initial offer made by the Dodgers in November, which was also for $45 million over two years. That offer would have paid Ramirez $15 million this season, $22.5 million the next and included a $22.5-million option for 2011 that the Dodgers could have bought out for $7.5 million.

Asked at that time about the offer, Boras said he looked forward to fielding "serious offers" from other clubs once the Dodgers' exclusive negotiating window with Ramirez closed.

Boras responded to the Dodgers' news release with one of his own, which ended with him stating that he was waiting for the club to respond to his counteroffer of two years at $45 million. He's still waiting.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants continue to lurk in the background. Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom told reporters in Scottsdale that his club remains interested in Ramirez.

"It's complicated," he said. "He's a force of nature in the batter's box. We've got a big left field. We've got a team that needs speed. . . . It's a challenging position for him. That said, he puts a lot of runs across."

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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