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Outside the Lines: Inside the Manny Ramirez Deal
Jeff Moorad, Manny Ramirez's agent- It sounded to me like they're chewing on our proposal a little more seriously than we thought.
Ley- Beginning behind the scenes an eight-week bidding frenzy.
Pat Gillick, General Manager, Seattle Mariners- I would see that your client would be a fit for us.
Ley- Offers, counters, leverage, and pressure.
Moorad- They're ready to make a proposal tonight. I told Dan that the deal that we could accept right now was $20 million a year for eight years.
Ley- Today on Outside The Lines, access to the negotiations that brought Manny Ramirez to Boston, one of the contracts this week reshaping the economics of baseball.
Announcer- Outside The Lines is presented by State Farm Insurance. Joining us from ESPN Studios, Bob Ley.
Ley- It's not an occasion for which Hallmark has a card, but this coming Saturday does mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the arbitrators' decision creating free agency in Major League Baseball. In the five years after that decision, baseball's average salary tripled to over $100,000.
While the death of the reserve clause sparked a golden age for baseball, many folks are very worried about this unfettered economic freedom and what it is doing to the game. Today, you will see that capitalism firsthand.
Since October, Outside The Lines has had access to the free agent negotiations for Manny Ramirez. His agent Jeff Moorad was dealing in a seller's market. By any standard, Ramirez was due a raise from his $4.25 million salary. In the same week Alex Rodriguez signed for $252 million, Manny Ramirez moved from Cleveland to Boston for $160 million.
A year from now, baseball may well shut down to avoid exactly what you're about to see, a wide open market, seemingly unlimited dollars chasing a marquis free agent.
Ley- It's October 23 in the midst of the World Series. Jeff Moorad and partner Scott Parker arrive in Cleveland.
For now and the 15 days after the World Series, they can negotiate only with the Indians.
Moorad- Without a doubt, the Indians would have to make Manny the highest paid player in the game. I guess in a sense, Manny Ramirez and I are linked at the hip on this one. I think this is a real defining moment for each of us.
Ley- Moorad and Indians General Manager John Hart have a preliminary meeting to discuss the Ramirez negotiations.
John Hart, General Manager, Cleveland Indians- I don't have anything at this time to report. We worked hard this afternoon. We're going to take a short break and continue on this evening.
Ley- Back in his hotel room, Moorad updates his client on his opening gambit and philosophy.
Moorad- I said you didn't want to go through this process again and that in our mind the contract was as short as seven years and as long as 10. They didn't make an offer because it just wasn't the right thing to do quite yet.
Ley- Four days later, Ramirez files for free agency. It is the calm before the negotiating storm. New teams can show interest but not yet talk terms.
November 2, at the Indians request, Moorad unveils his opener.
Moorad- We're talking about $200 million over 10 years. It gives us essentially a $20-million-a-year position for Manny to feel good about. You've got to swallow hard on something if you want the guy.
And I understand $20 million in an up-front payment is a big swallow. But again, nobody said it was going to be easy.
Ley- Several teams are willing to consider just that. There's early interest from the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. Then four days before the negotiating period, Moorad gets the call he had been hoping for from the Yankees.
Unidentified female- Jeff, I've got Brian Cashman (ph) on 321.0
Unidentified male- Jeff?
Moorad- Hey, Brian.
Unidentified male- I'm calling you on Manny and obviously expressing our strong interest. We want to move kind of fast and furious. And we have reached that obviously for some of the other big free agents we'd like to be seen on.
And we're just going to put our best foot forward on a few guys. And whoever decides they want to be a Yankee the most first obviously is going to take us the direction we're going to have to go.
Moorad- Well, that doesn't sound like a real compelling reaching out to Manny Ramirez. So...
Unidentified male- No, well, we want Manny. And there's no hidden ball trick here. And from a position standpoint, our office needs a lot of help. We just don't know if Manny is going to come to us or not.
Moorad- Now we've got our 300-pound gorilla. It's a question of how we move forward and frankly whether Manny is ultimately motivated to sign to New York.
Ley- But Cleveland owns his exclusive rights for three more days. Their response to Moorad's opener, a deafening silence. The same day the Yankees make their call, the Indians go public as John Hart holds a conference call with writers (ph).
Hart- We've had good faith conversations about our market, our economics, obviously what it would take to extend ourselves to keep Manny. And that is a desire of ours.
They've made it very clear that this is going to be an economically driven contract. It's going to be an economically driven situation.
Ley- Moorad updates Ramirez through Gene Motto (ph), an associate of Moorad's firm.
Moorad- You know, there are parts of the Indians' silence right now that I don't understand. So I don't want to concern Manny. But he isn't going to understand it either.
I actually listened in to John Hart's press conference where he just gave a bunch of kind of odd comments. I mean, I'm just not sure where they were going.
I mean, I get the sense that somebody has told them -- maybe it's Larry Dolan (ph) has made a decision that they don't want to chase a deal just to chase the deal. In other words, they don't want to bid against themselves. They don't want to pay more than they have to just to get it done.
They still want Manny. But for whatever reason, they appear to be letting the thing get pushed into next week, almost daring us to go onto the market.
Gene Motto, Associate of Moorad'S firm- He realizes even though that's where he wants to be? He knows you've got complete control over the situation. And he's confident that you're going to place him with the right team, whether it's Cleveland, whether it's the Yankees, or whether it's Arizona.
Moorad- Right. I mean, I think the Indians frankly are going to look worse than we are because they asked us for an offer. We made an offer. And they just haven't responded.
Ley- Two days later, the Indians do. They fax across their offer, seven years, $119 million. The two sides are far apart, $3 million a year and $81 million on total contract value.
Moorad gives Hart a quick answer.
Moorad- Hey, John, how are you doing? You know, I wish I had a different response. But I think to some extent you already know that we are going to respectfully decline.
Ley- That polite rejection opens the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes.
Moorad- I think it's fair to say the Mariners are quite serious. We had this feeling all along that Seattle might be the team that we end up looking in the eye at the end of this process.
Ley- November 13, the Seattle Mariners are in the leadoff spot in the Manny Ramirez scramble.
Moorad- This is our first official meeting about Manny Ramirez with another organization. I actually talked with Manny a little earlier today and told him that we were about to meet. And he said, "Tell them to put up the money and I'm there."
Moorad- I said, "I'll make sure I pass that along."
Gillick- Would Manny consider coming to Seattle?
Moorad- Well, one of the questions he had was whether you really were going to move the fences in, in all seriousness.
Chuck Armstrong, President, Seattle Mariners- We've got charts on it. And so we have the ability to tailor the ballpark to our team a little bit. So, yes, we would definitely consider that.
Moorad- To the extent that the Mariners were serious, he'd be serious about you.
Ley- The Mariners are shopping because Alex Rodriguez is a free agent. Until A-Rod and Mike Mussina sign, the dollars and bidders for Manny Ramirez will remain unsettled.
Moorad for the week after his meeting with the Mariners is waiting. From his home, he updates Ramirez.
Moorad- What are you doing? You hanging in Florida waiting to see where you're going to play baseball next year?
Manny Ramirez, professional baseball player- Yeah. I think maybe Japan.
Moorad- Maybe Japan. That's right. Listen, it may be before we finish. I think you're going to play somewhere in the United States. I'm just not sure where yet.
Pat Gillick came by the office. That's the general manager of the Mariners. And he came by yesterday. And he said that they were still thinking through their situation.
I then had an interesting call a little later in the day. I heard from Dan Duquette, who is the general manager of the Red Sox. I told Dan Duquette that, "Listen," that Pedro was a good friend of yours, that your preference was to stay in the American League.
And I said I also like the fact that there's a significant Latino population in Boston. There are a lot of Puerto Ricans. There are a lot of Dominicans. When Pedro pitches up there, they have the entire ballpark full of Dominican flags.
There more I hear Manny, the more I believe that this process is not going to really get going in a more serious way until the winter meetings.
Ley- November 20, the Indians sign Ellis Burks as insurance against losing Ramirez. November 30, one shoe drops. The Yankees sign Mike Mussina for $88.5 million. The next day, the market in Manny Ramirez futures gets a big boost.
Unidentified female- Hey, Jeff, Lee Thomas (ph) is on 500.
Ley- The Red Sox are in fact serious.
Lee Thomas, Assistant General Manager, Boston Red Sox- Dan wanted me to ask you and to kind of put it bluntly. Would there be any need for us to get involved with Ramirez? Are we out of the box already, or is there any chance to talk to you about him?
Moorad- Manny was excited to hear about your possible interest. And if you're interested, first, my feedback would be, look, we need to get together and talk.
Ley- That talk with the Red Sox is scheduled for December 5 in Miami. Beforehand, Moorad has a strategy session with his client.
Moorad- They're ready to make a proposal tonight. They wanted to make it before the meeting. But I said, "No, we just want to do a meeting so that we can understand what you're really saying before we talk numbers."
Moorad- So then later tonight they'll make a proposal.
Ley- Late afternoon, Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette and Assistant GM Lee Thomas arrive at the Miami meetings.
Moorad- Good to see you.
Thomas- Hello. How are you?
Dan Duquette, General Manager, Boston Red Sox- I wanted to give this to you. What it is is really basically how we think you can really help the ball club, how we think you can really help the Red Sox and how we think you'll feel comfortable in Boston. Most of the Dominican players that come to the city, they seem to be comfortable there.
The most dynamic thing for the team is that you would go into the middle of the lineup with Garciaparra and Carl Everett (ph). So it should help you put up with good numbers. And fans in Boston appreciate your unique skill and your ability to hit.
Ramirez- I'm one of those guys that don't talk a lot. I just go and try to play the game. And...
Duquette- Yeah. You've always been quiet and businesslike and ready.
Ramirez- That's the only thing you could do is just work and see if you're happy.
Moorad- Let me get this.
Ley- The Red Sox pitch includes calls from their team leaders, first Pedro Martinez and then this call from Nomar Garciaparra.
Ramirez- Hello? Hey, what's going on, man? Oh, everything is fine so far. Yeah, everything is cool. You know, I hope this will work out fine with them. Yeah, I like you guys, you know.
Ley- The next day, the skies open for Ramirez. The Red Sox, under pressure from their fans to make a bold move, open with an eight-year offer at about $17 million per year. And Cleveland jumps back in at $20 million per year, but only five seasons.
Moorad now has competing offers. The numbers can only go up. The question is, how far?
Ley- December 8. Three days removed from their Miami meeting, Dan Duquette of the Red Sox, along with team executive Mike Ford (ph), arrives at Jeff Moorad's southern California office. They are there to continue the pursuit of Manny Ramirez.
Moorad- They walked in here having faxed a proposal for about $17 million a year over eight years. We're now at a deal that potentially is 200 million bucks for 10 years.
Ley- The next morning before dawn, the two sides resume their talks. Moorad tries to edge the Red Sox upward, forcing Duquette to phone his boss John Harrington (ph) to authorize more money.
Moorad- The CFO is calling back in 10 minutes. He's calling John right now. So I can't imagine this to tell John it isn't going to happen.
Unidentified male- Right. It sounds like they're just getting approval then.
Moorad- So we're close.
Ley- Even as the Red Sox dig deeper, Moorad seeks more leverage. He urges Cleveland's John Hart to increase his contract offer to eight years.
Hart- You know, I've talked ownership a couple of times. I said, look, that we were prepared to go seven, you should think about going eight. I think I've made it clear to them that if all things were equal and if all things were close to being equal that you're going to send Manny here.
Moorad- I mean, I will tell you tomorrow what it would take and truly in the spirit of what Manny Ramirez has always asked me to do.
Moorad- Which is to see if there is a way to put together a competitive deal in Cleveland.
Ley- By day's end on December 9, Boston has yet to improve its offer. Duquette departs California for the winter meetings in Dallas. Moorad still has the Indians on hold.
The next day, Moorad arrives in Dallas and sits immediately with John Hart, laying out the terms needed to keep Ramirez in Cleveland. Things are moving quickly, as Moorad updates Manny.
Moorad- And so I came back down to Hart's room. We had the best, most constructive discussion we've had yet. Scott and I are sitting around just literally with our feet up saying, "Look, tell us where your bottom line is. In other words, spare our feelings. Just tell us. We have to know. We have to make a decision tonight."
Ley- The Indians do increase their contract offer to eight years, and roughly the same money as the Red Sox. But Moorad is not happy with their deferred money. It's time to get Boston's last and best offer.
Duquette- Our preference would be to defer two out of each of the years.
Moorad- Why is that? I know that at one point you proposed those without deferrals.
Duquette- I would say that -- I would say that we would just prefer it on a cash flow basis.
Moorad- So you're talking years nine and 10?
Moorad- All right, so you'd do the 20 if you could defer two each year, correct?
Moorad- Both club options.
Duquette- Yes, yes.
Moorad- I don't think I have anything else to ask you for, other than more money. But despite his preference all along of staying in Cleveland, I think that -- my gut is he chooses Boston.
Ley- But the Indians aren't out of it yet. Moorad had promised them a final shot.
As midnight approaches in Hart's hotel room, that last offer is constructed. Moorad's partner Scott Parker and Cleveland executive Chris Anzanetti (ph) crunch the numbers.
The Indians make their final proposal. Moorad is prepared to fly Ramirez to Dallas so they can evaluate the two offers.
But the next morning, Moorad awakens to a surprise. Ramirez has made up his mind. He's ready to take the Red Sox offer subject to one final and most unusual request.
Moorad- If they hire Frankie Mancini (ph) in the clubhouse, he'll go to Boston. OK, so we're talking about Frankie Mancini. He sets up the pitching machine for him.
Moorad- Are you kidding me? That's why. That's why he's Manny. Frankie Mancini is making this decision. That's unbelievable.
So the Red Sox have to find him and tell him he has a new job. And by the way, he has to move to Boston.
Ley- With nearly $200 million on the line, Moorad summons Duquette to smooth over this potential deal breaker.
Moorad- I want you to think on the way up about how you would add to your clubhouse payroll a new clubby, who would be coming over from Cleveland.
Ley- But the clubhouse attendant tells Ramirez he won't leave Cleveland. It's now time for a decision. There is comfort and familiarity with the Indians, better money in Boston.
Having felt underpaid through his time in Cleveland, Manny Ramirez chooses the Red Sox. All that remains is confirming the numbers with Dan Duquette.
Moorad- Our totals are $160 million after eight years counting bonus and salary. If you pick up the first option here, it's $180 million for nine years. And if you pick up both options years, it's $200 million for 10 years.
I have good news, Manny. Dan Duquette is here. He's going to pick up the phone. And we've agreed on all terms. And you're about to be a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Hang on. Dan is right here.
Duquette- Hi, Manny. How are you? Hey, congratulations.
We're so happy to have you with us. I think it's going to be great.
I think you're going to love Boston. The fans are going to love you. And you're going to be able to be recognized as among the great hitters in the history of the franchise. We're so excited to have you.
And you know what the good news is? You don't have to hit against Pedro anymore.
Ley- Manny Ramirez signed one day after Alex Rodriguez's landmark deal. Commissioner Bud Selig said such contracts show, quote, "how sick the system is." This time next year, owners and players will likely to go war on this issue.
Next, more on last week's look at steroids in college football.
Ley- Our program last week examining steroid use in college football sparked a number of reactions, including a request from one NFL team for a copy of the show. But a number of e-mails criticized the portrayal of the University of Texas at El Paso.
"There's no doubt steroid use exists in all college sports at all universities. I find it amazing ESPN decided to pick UTEP to do the story.
"It seems every time UTEP has some success, everyone thinks something is wrong at UTEP. Your report did not go far enough in explaining the problems. UTEP was under a different coach and athletic director.
"I think you need to give UTEP some praise for stepping up to the plate and talking about their past problems and their current programs. I just wish you would have given their current programs more airtime and discussed with your panel whether or not it is enough or what schools should be doing."
Love to hear from you. Our e-mail address, email@example.com, online at ESPN.com. And tomorrow morning, agent Jeff Moorad will take your questions, an ESPN.com chat. Log on for that session. Click the link on the front page, the chat 11-15 Eastern, 8-15 a.m. Pacific time.
Ley- If you missed any portion of our inside look at the Manny Ramirez negotiations, the program re-airs over on ESPN2, 2-30 Eastern this afternoon, 11-30 a.m. Pacific time.
"SportsCenter" is back in 30 minutes. And we've got "NFL Countdown" with Chris Berman and the gang in 60 minutes. Today, Eddie George will answer all the skeptics who wonder if he's going to have anything left in his tank for the playoff run with the Titans.
Now to the ESPN Zone in Times Square for Dick Schaap and "The Sports Reporters." I'm Bob Ley. We'll see you next Sunday right here Outside The Lines.
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