General manager Ned Colletti said Wednesday that the Dodgers made an offer to the free-agent slugger, and their pitch would give him the second-highest average salary in the sport behind Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"If you saw the bid, it's nothing that we're embarrassed by," Colletti said at the GM meetings. "Manny was close to that number, anyway -- closer to that area than the last place he's been."
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that the Dodgers' offer is believed to be for either two years at $50 million or three years for $75 million.
Rodriguez currently has the top average at $27.5 million under the 10-year deal he agreed to before last season. Mets pitcher Johan Santana is second at $22.9 million under the six-season deal he agreed to before the '08 season.
Ramirez, acquired from Boston on July 31, is coming off a $160 million, eight-year contract he signed with the Red Sox before the 2001 season.
"We said, 'Think about it for a while. It's not going to be there forever,'" Colletti said. "Things are always subject to change, and it depends on what else we do, to some extent. I've been asked a few times here if we're going to wait to see what happens with this before we do anything else. But I'm not sure we're going to have the luxury to do that. If there's something else that comes about that we feel we need to do, and the timeliness is there to do it, we'll have to do it."
When the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs last month, Ramirez expressed a desire to test the market.
"I want to see who is the highest bidder. Gas is up and so am I," he said then.
Gas prices have gone down sharply since then, his agent, Scott Boras, joked Wednesday.
"I believe that was a prognostication that was of a 24-hour period," Boras said. "Manny's stock career was short-lived."
Ramirez is 36, and the length of the contract could become as issue. Boras is said to be seeking a lengthy deal.
"There's always two elements to it. It's not just the dollar figure, it's for how long," Colletti said.
Said Boras: "We have now established records with a lot of veteran players, where we're seeing players perform at very high levels into their early 40s."
Appearing on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio Thursday, Boras called the talks with the Dodgers "preliminary." When asked if he was adamant that Ramirez receive a six-year deal, Boras wouldn't go into specifics but pointed to the contracts that he negotiated for Barry Bonds with the Giants and Alex Rodriguez with the Yankees.
Bonds' deal, which Boras negotiated with Colletti when the current Dodgers GM was with San Francisco, lasted until he was 42 years old and Rodriguez's contract will expire when he is 42. If Ramirez were to sign a six-year contract this offseason, it would expire when he is 42.
When asked if Ramirez would accept a four-year deal, Boras said he wasn't about to negotiate a contract on a national radio show, but did say this:
"Manny is seeking something that is fair based on what players like him have received in the past," Boras said on the ESPN Radio appearance.
Ramirez hit .396 with 17 homers, 53 RBIs, 36 runs scored, 74 hits and 35 walks in 53 regular-season games with Los Angeles, leading the Dodgers to the NL West title.
He was even more potent in the postseason, hitting .520 with four homers, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and 11 walks in eight playoff games.
The 12-time All-Star has hit 527 career homers, with another 28 in the postseason.
According to MLB.com, Boras said that he would meet with eight other clubs about various clients before the meetings end Thursday.
"I've already taken care of the Dodgers for these meetings," he said, according to MLB.com.
Talking to the Mets about Ramirez might not make sense.
"He's an offensive player," Mets general manager Omar Minaya of Ramirez, according to Newsday. "He's been a very good player. But for us, where we are right now, where is it we're going to invest? Our priority right now is we have to address our pitching. We have to look at that first."
Also Wednesday, the Dodgers declined Brad Penny's $9.25 million option, making the 30-year-old right-hander eligible to become a free agent.
Penny, who receives a $2 million buyout, was 6-9 with a 6.27 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances last season. He was bothered by shoulder problems for much of the year and went on the disabled list three times: from June 17 to Aug. 8, Aug. 14 to Sept. 10 and Sept. 24 through the end of the season.
He was acquired by the Dodgers from Florida in July 2004 and won 16 games in both 2006 and 2007.
"This past year, between getting hurt and not being able to come back, we just didn't see enough scope of work, really," Colletti said.
While speaking about Ramirez, Colletti addressed the possibility that Greg Maddux will retire. The 355-game winner turns 43 in April.
"I told Scott we'd love to have him back, and we're not going to be closing the door on Greg Maddux anytime soon," Colletti said. "I've known him for a long, long time. I respect who he is and admire him for what he's done. I know the impact he has on a club and on a franchise."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.