Now that Manny Ramirez has rejected the Los Angeles Dodgers' latest contract offer of one year and $25 million, the team is considering alternatives -- including further pursuit of ongoing negotiations with slugger Adam Dunn and second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Ramirez has now turned down three different proposals from the Dodgers: A two-year, $45 million proposal in November, to which agent Scott Boras never responded; an offer of arbitration; and the latest one-year, $25 million offer.
The Dodgers budgeted money to re-sign Ramirez, as well as another veteran pitcher, and so they have about $30 million to spend. That kind of money will buy a whole lot of talent in the current free-agent market, with its depressed prices. According to a baseball source, the Dodgers "are considering a handful of directions."
One of those is a package proposal the Dodgers have discussed about Hudson and Dunn, who are represented by the same agency. Hudson, 31, batted .305 in 107 games for Arizona last season, and the 29-year-old Dunn has slammed at least 40 homers in five consecutive seasons. Those two players would probably cost the Dodgers less than Ramirez alone.
If the Dodgers sign others besides Ramirez, it's unclear where Ramirez could turn -- although the Giants have lingered in the bidding for Ramirez, perhaps to push up the price for their division rival in L.A., and perhaps to position themselves in case the negotiations for Ramirez break down for good.
As part of the Dodgers' discussions about Ramirez, there has been an internal debate about what might be an acceptable offer to the slugger, and what might anger him to the point that he might stop playing as hard as he did for L.A. in the final two months of last season. The Dodgers structured their most recent offer in an attempt to satisfy Ramirez's desire to be one of the highest-paid players in the game.
If the Dodgers sign Hudson and Dunn, there would be no such questions about effort.
Buster Olney is a senior baseball writer for ESPN The Magazine.