A River in a Time of Dryness: The Manny Ramirez Saga

Justin GormanCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2009

Competition in a market is a pretty basic concept.

Merriam-Webster defines competition in business as “the effort of two or more parties acting independently to secure the business of a third party by offering the most favorable terms.”

Unfortunately, Scott Boras does not believe in Merriam OR Webster. He has staked a darker territory. As a Red Sox fan, I’m not wholly unfamiliar with the ridiculous negotiation tactics that Boras uses for all of his clients.

It’s what has kept him among the elite agents in the MLB for years, and continues to make him desirable for players.

I am not going to sit here and tell you he’s not effective. I mean, dude landed Andruw Jones an absolutely absurd contract—two years/$36.2 million—after Jones hit .222 in 154 games the year prior.

That’s proof positive that he has the innate ability to make a loaded litter box smell like a botanical garden. That’s impressive, to be sure.

However, I question the guy’s sanity. Manny Ramirez is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive hitters I’ve ever watched play the game. That being said, the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles are the only team in the market for Ramirez. 

There were whispers early that the San Francisco Giants wanted a piece of the Manny Ramirez pie, but their presence has been by and large non-existent.

Boras has said to the press that there are other teams interested in Manny Ramirez.  But he has never named another team, nor has any other team acknowledged interest in Ramirez.

Evidently this was Boras’s rationale when they rejected the two-year/$45 million offer and the one-year/$25 million offer.  Most recently, they rejected an offer where Ramirez would make $25 million in the first year and had a player option for the second year at $20 million.

Boras’s problem, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney is deferred money. The $45 million dollar offer includes deferred payments to Manny, a financing tool that would enable the Dodgers to spread out their spending into the future as opposed to paying it all up front. 

The problem with this payment plan is that future money is worth less than present money, and those precious $45 million would have the equivalent of paying Ramirez $41 million today.

Included in this two year contract the Dodgers have offered to pay Ramirez $25 million in exchange for his first year of performance, which under the stipulated pay schedule would only be worth $22.5 Million.


Maybe if I made that much money I would see this differently—maybe then I could understand how someone can say they need $25 million up front.

It’s also entirely possible that if I were a professional athlete or making an obscene amount of money, the fact that Ramirez and Boras are so cavalierly rejecting some of the highest short-term offers in the history of Major League Baseball wouldn’t make me sick to my stomach. 

It takes a great deal of arrogance and audacity to reject these offers with the current state of the global economy.

I’m usually not of the mindset that professional athletes make too much money, as I understand what a superstar can bring to a city, to an organization, to merchandising, and so on.  They can transform an organization and make it incredibly profitable, in many ways.

There is no bidding war. The Dodgers are bidding against...themselves. They are their own captive market.

Manny Ramirez will be 37 in May. He is, no doubt, still an effective hitter, but he’s not exactly a model clubhouse presence. That doesn’t make one lick of difference in the economic equation, and Ramirez will get paid.

Yet he and Scott Boras are absolutely ruining the baseball economy and flipping off every baseball fan that has felt the pains of this recession, just like the Yankees did this offseason.

The way they are handling these negotiations is nothing short of disgraceful, and greedy on a level that is difficult to comprehend.

Meanwhile, Ned Coletti just needs to sit and wait, and not change his negotiation strategy one iota.

And strangely, so does Boras.

Manny Ramirez will end up playing the next two years for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Los Angeles. He will make the NL All-Star team next year, he will bum around in left field, and  he will probably hit more taters than the Dodgers have seen in recent memory.

People will still lose their jobs and wonder how they are going to support their families in this economic crisis. Ramirez will still be quoted as saying "Gas is up, and so am I."

Scott Boras will go down in history as the most powerful agent in the history of professional sports.

And people like me will keep writing these pieces out of blinding frustration.


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