Teams have 48 hours to pull the slugger out of Boston

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox placed All-Star slugger Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers Wednesday.

The move means any major league team can have Ramirez -- if it is
willing to pay his salary. The outfielder has five years and $101.5 million remaining on a
$160 million, eight-year contract, and would get an extra $1
million if he switches teams. He is scheduled to make $20.5 million
next season.

When contacted by The Associated Press, Red Sox spokesman Kevin
Shea said: "The waiver procedure is a confidential procedure, and
we're prohibited from commenting on it. We're not permitted to say
whether a player is on or is not on waivers."

A phone message left by the AP for Ramirez's agent, Jeff Moorad,
was not immediately returned.

Under the waivers, which exist for a 48-hour period that expires Friday at 1 p.m. ET, the Red Sox would not be able to counter a claim by another team, thus losing Ramirez. In that case, the Red Sox would also not be responsible for remaining base salary Ramirez is owed.

Even if another team does not claim Ramirez off the waivers, the Red Sox have essentially sent out a signal that they are willing to deal Ramirez, which could lead to future trade talks.

Ramirez hit .325 this year, one point behind teammate Bill
Mueller for the AL batting title, and had 37 homers and 104 RBI.
The Red Sox won the wild card and advanced to AL championship
series before losing to the New York Yankees in seven games.

The Journal reported that baseball sources told the paper on Wednesday night that the Yankees would be the team most likely to claim Ramirez. In the days since the Yankees' World Series loss to the Florida Marlins, owner George Steinbrenner has taken control of the team with the apparent intention to dramatically alter the roster.

Ramirez, who moved to New York from the Dominican Republic at age 13, told ESPN's Joe Morgan in late August of his childhood dreams to play in Yankee Stadium, where he has always hit well, with the Yankees. Ramirez also told Morgan that the Yankees had expressed interest in him after the 2000 season, when he was a free agent, but signed Mike Mussina instead.

While the Yankees appear the most likely of teams to make a move for Ramirez, there are other teams in need of a power-hitting outfielder that may consider the right-handed slugger. The Journal reported that the New York Mets, the Baltimore Orioles, and, though less likely, the Anaheim Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers may show interest.

The left fielder was placed on waivers just two days after
Boston announced it would not bring back manager Grady Little, who
led the team to 188 regular-season wins the past two years.

Ramirez is one of baseball's best hitters, but he often
struggles in the outfield and on the bases.

He was benched by Little late this season after he missed a
crucial series against the Yankees with a sore throat and fever,
yet managed to pull himself out of bed to reminisce with New York
infielder Enrique Wilson about their days in Cleveland.

Then Ramirez didn't show up for an appointment with the team
doctor, and when he joined the club the next day he sat on the
bench but said he was "too weak" to pinch-hit.

And in a game at Yankee Stadium in September, the absent-minded
Ramirez tossed the ball into the stands after making a nice catch,
thinking there were three outs when there were only two.

According to a report in the Providence Journal, those actions by Ramirez set off internal discussions by the club to deal him this off-season, even though the Red Sox would likely have to pay much of the remaining money owed Ramirez.

Under irrevocable waivers, teams in the American League get first crack at Ramirez. If no team claims him, then he goes through the National League.

If two or more teams in the AL claim Ramirez, the team with the poorer record gets him. If no AL teams claim him, the appliesin the NL.

If no team claims Ramirez by the deadline Friday, he
will remain with the Red Sox.

Ramirez, 30, was signed as a free agent by former Boston general
manager Dan Duquette in December 2000. Ramirez is scheduled to earn
$20 million in 2005, $19 million in 2006, $18 million in 2007 and
$20 million in 2008.

He also is due $4 million a year in deferred, no-interest salary
from 2004-10, and he's still owed $10 million of his $16 million
signing bonus, the Boston Herald reported on its Web site.

Ramirez's club options for 2009 and 2010 are each worth $20

In his past three seasons wtih the Red Sox, Ramirez has hit .300 each year, while hitting more than 30 homers and 100 RBI. He won the American League batting title in 2002 and has recorded 100 more RBI in eight of his nine seasons in the majors, playing for the Cleveland Indians during the first six.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.