Manny, Dodgers to meet to close deal

Manny, Dodgers to meet to close deal

PHOENIX -- Significant progress was made in contract talks Tuesday between the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez, who is flying to Los Angeles for a Wednesday meeting with club ownership that could result in a deal, according to a baseball source.

"I'm still working on it, but it's yet to be finalized," said Scott Boras, Ramirez's agent, responding to an ESPN Desportes report that the deal was done.

A deal became imminent when Boras met on Tuesday with Dodgers chairman Frank McCourt at Dodger Stadium and tried to bridge the gap both financially and philosophically, one source said.

The two sides were in agreement on a two-year, $45 million contract with a player opt-out clause after the first year, but were in dispute over the deferral of salary that would discount the present-day value of the total compensation by $1.5 million (the interest in deferring payment over five years).

The meeting will be held to finalize the terms of the contract and resolve any issues that remain after four months of sometimes cantankerous negotiations since Ramirez declared for free agency after being acquired by the Dodgers and leading them into the NL Championship Series.

Expected at the meeting are the same parties that met in Los Angeles last Wednesday -- Boras, Boras associate Mike Fiore, McCourt, general manager Ned Colletti -- plus Ramirez, who has steadfastly remained in favor of returning to the Dodgers this season.

"I'm happy in L.A. I like my teammates and had a great time," Ramirez told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday in an interview conducted earlier in the day. "The fans were so good to me; they treated me the best anywhere in my career. And now I think we're getting close (to a deal) ... Tell everyone, Mannywood is coming."

The negotiations broke down Thursday when McCourt said that when they resumed, they would have to "start from scratch." Since then, Boras has made three proposals on behalf of Ramirez to bridge the gap between the two principal offers. The Dodgers wanted two years for $45 million with $25 million deferred without interest. Ramirez wanted two years for $45 million paid over two years.

On Saturday at the direction of Ramirez, Boras made an offer that reduced the difference in the deferred compensation from $3 million to $1.5 million.

Ramirez would be 38 when the contract expires, so the Dodgers satisfied their strategy not to commit into his 40s without having the designated hitter available for a transitional role. The Dodgers outfield would consist of Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, with Juan Pierre again squeezed out of a starting role.

Ramirez captured the imagination of a city and its fans like no Dodger since Fernando Valenzuela.

Despite only two months in the National League with the Dodgers, he finished fourth in voting for the league's Most Valuable Player award, one vote short of third place Ryan Braun of Milwaukee.

He pretty much carried the Dodgers into the postseason with a .396 average, 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games, along with a .469 on-base percentage and .743 slugging percentage after his July 31 acquisition from Boston. Since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, only one Dodger (Duke Snider in 1953) had more homers, RBIs and a higher average in a 53-game span.

Ramirez has 527 home runs, 17th on the all-time list, and is 20th on the all-time RBI list with 1,725. His .396 average with the Dodgers was second highest for an in-season acquisition behind Cesar Cedeno, who hit .434 in 28 games in 1985. Ramirez's combined .332 average on the season was third in baseball behind Chipper Jones (.364) and Albert Pujols (.357), he tied for fourth with 37 homers, was sixth with 121 RBIs, second with a .601 slugging percentage and fourth with a .430 on-base percentage.

Although it doesn't count for MVP consideration, Ramirez continued the onslaught in the postseason, going 13-for-25 with four homers and 10 RBIs in eight games. He extended his MLB postseason records with his 28th homer, 12 in the LCS, and has an RBI in nine straight postseason games.

He hit .533 (8-for-15) in the National League Championship Series with two homers and seven walks. He drove in seven of the Dodgers' 20 runs (35 percent), had 16 of their 64 total bases (25 percent), with a .682 on-base percentage and a 1.067 slugging percentage.

Ramirez is one of only six players in MLB history with at least 12 seasons of 30 or more home runs, and the only active player with home runs during the last decade is Alex Rodriguez.

Ken Gurnick and Barry M. Bloom are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.