Thursday. That's the deadline for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make Manny Ramirez an offer he can't refuse.
So far, they haven't. And if their latest offer is the best they can do, things don't bode well for The Boys of Summer.
On the table, where it appears to be staying, is a two-year deal worth more than $37 million with an option for a third season. To buy out that third season, the Dodgers would have to pay $7.5 million.
Super agent Scott Boras, who represents Ramirez, is wanting something closer to a six-year deal. Manny would be 42 when that deal ended. There aren't very many teams in baseball who would be willing to pay out that much money, given Manny's perceived attitude in his final days in Boston.
Ramirez was clearly unhappy, but that won't matter to most of the teams with the kind of money it will take to land him on their roster. There would be a calculated risk that Manny might become a malcontent in a few years, wherever he ends up. That's why there are really only three or four teams with a realistic shot at getting Manny Ramirez.
The Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have been making moves for a long time to become as recognizable as the Dodgers, and landing Manny Ramirez would go a long way in helping that cause.
See, the Angels have always been seen as sort of the Dodgers' little brother. Just three years ago they managed to get the Los Angeles tag back. Owner Arte Moreno is ready and willing to shell out the kind of money that Boras thinks Ramirez is worth.
Add to that the fact that Ramirez will be given the freedom to do as he pleases, and the Angels are a legitimate possibility.
The Los Angeles market is exactly why Manny was so successful with the Dodgers. When he is competing with the likes of a drunk and pantiless Paris Hilton and a mentally unstable and pantiless Britney Spears, he'll look classy and incredibly sane by comparison.
Ramirez would thrive in Los Angeles and put up the kind of numbers that would warrant writing a big check. Plus, unlike A-Rod, Manny has two rings and will bring instant offense to whichever team signs him.
In just 53 games in Los Angeles, Manny hit almost .500, with 17 home runs and 53 RBI. That's an all-star shortstop's entire season. He almost single-handedly took the Dodgers to the NLCS.
The Los Angeles Dodgers
Clearly, the Dodgers have the inside track. They have exclusive negotiating rights until Thursday, and supposedly they are still trying.
The thing is, the Dodgers aren't the Dodgers anymore. Before this year, they hadn't won a playoff series since 1988.
They still have the money and with Joe Torre as their manager they are showing that they are willing to commit to getting the team back to where it was in the late '70s and early '80s.
The fact that they haven't worked out a deal doesn't bode well for them.
Scott Boras botched the A-Rod contract negotiation with the Yankees during the 2007 playoffs, causing Rodriguez to work out a deal on his own. Boras is notorious for driving up the price, practically holding his clients for ransom. If Los Angeles can't work out a deal now, the price is only going to go up.
Just like with the Angels, Manny can be himself. He can roll around in the outfield, cut off throws from center field, and be happy doing it.
Plus, I think he liked playing under Torre.
The New York Yankees
Whenever there is a major player on the market, the Yankees will always be in the hunt. Manny can give that lineup something he can't give to any other lineup in baseball. Imagine seeing A-Rod and Manny back-to-back with runners on base.
The Yankees have as much talent as anybody else, but sometimes it seems like they're way too tight. Manny would loosen things up.
And, don't forget how trigger happy baby Steinbrenner is to live up to the legacy of Senior Steinbrenner. He might be willing to pay anything to bring Manny to New York, especially since Manny would make the Yankees the clear favorite to win the World Series.
The biggest problem the Yankees had this past season had more to do with offense than pitching. Sure, losing Joba Chamberlain after the All-Star break made for a huge hole in the pitching staff, but the Yankees over that same span lost 13 games in which they scored two or fewer runs.
Most important of all, the Yankees have the money to spend.
Until the Thursday deadline comes, the Dodgers are the front runner, and they control their own destiny, so to speak. If the deadline comes and goes without an agreement, the likelihood of the re-signing him diminishes, leaving the Yankees and Angels as the only teams willing or able to attend the Manny auction.
And with Boras as the auctioneer, no price is too high.