Manny Ramirez says he isn't upset at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He says he isn't bothered by how long it is taking him to sign a new contract...
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. — Manny Ramirez says he isn’t upset at the Los Angeles Dodgers. He says he isn’t bothered by how long it is taking him to sign a new contract. And he says being a free agent so close to the start of spring training isn’t a source of anxiety for him.
Ramirez glances out a lobby window. Several hotel guests are sitting in a hot tub. Behind them, small waves push onto the white sands of this beach on the Florida Panhandle, the water gradually turning green as it moves closer to land.
“I like it here because I can focus on my work,” Ramirez said. “I have one of the best agents on the market. He’s kept me up to date on everything. I feel really calm.”
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Speaking in Spanish in his first interview of the year, a seemingly relaxed Ramirez said Saturday he didn’t know when he would sign or with whom. He didn’t offer many details about his state of mind, except, perhaps, when addressing the widespread concerns the lengthy contract talks might disgruntle him and result in his not playing hard this year.
“That won’t happen,” he said. “Understand me, I have goals. I know that if I play six more years, I could get to my 3,000th hit and, who knows, maybe my 700th home run.”
Ramirez has 2,392 hits in his 16-year career, including 527 home runs. He turns 37 on May 30, which has made the long-term deal he seeks elusive.
But Ramirez said he sensed he was moving closer to signing with someone:
“We’re in the seventh inning and I’m waiting for my pitch.”
The Dodgers have made him three offers, counting their offer for arbitration he declined in December. They made their initial pitch to him in November, proposing a two-year, $45 million contract that included an option for a third year that would have raised its total value to $60 million. They made another pitch to him last week, offering a one-year, $25 million deal.
“No, it doesn’t bother me,” Ramirez said of the offers. “This is a business. You have to continue negotiating. … What matters is what I sign in the end.”
Ramirez, previously a Boston Red Sox standout, said he has fond memories of his 2 ½ months with the Dodgers, which culminated with their first National League Championship Series appearance in 20 years.
“I enjoyed the time I spent there,” he said. “The reporters treated me well. They treated me with respect. When I needed my 15 minutes to go to the cages, they gave it to me. I felt really comfortable there. Everyone treated me well, all of the guys.”
Ramirez acknowledged he has had a couple of conversations this winter with Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who told him he was wanted back.
“I felt very proud of what we did there,” Ramirez said. “But we have various options that we’re looking at.”
Among the other options could be the San Francisco Giants, who reportedly intensified their negotiations last week with Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras.
“I’m not going to get into dollars and cents,” Giants president Larry Baer said. “We’ve said all along it has to be the right fit for the Giants.”