Red Sox put Ramirez on waivers, no takers likely

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2003

BOSTON (AP) Manny Ramirez makes so much money that even the biggest spenders in baseball don't want him.

The Boston Red Sox placed him on irrevocable waivers Wednesday, and teams have until 1 p.m. EST Friday to claim the slugging left fielder.

If he's claimed, Boston would get nothing in return but would unload the contract, the second-richest in baseball history. If he isn't claimed, he would remain with the Red Sox.

The New York Yankees' payroll of $164 million not including postseason and award bonuses is the highest in the major leagues, but they have no interest in claiming Ramirez, a top baseball executive familiar with the team's plans said Thursday on the condition of anonymity.

Ramirez 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.

That price leaves few teams in a financial position to claim him and pay the entire amount. It also could hurt Boston's ability to keep some of its other stars who can become free agents after next season pitchers Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, catcher Jason Varitek and right fielder Trot Nixon.

The Red Sox refused to confirm that Ramirez was placed on waivers. Clubs often place many of their players on waivers to gauge other teams' interest and to lay the groundwork for trades.

''We're not permitted to comment on waiver issues,'' team president Larry Lucchino said Thursday through his assistant.

The move, first reported by The New York Times, Boston Herald and The Providence Journal, was confirmed Thursday to the AP by the baseball executive.

Calls to Ramirez's agent, Jeff Moorad, and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein were not returned.

''When you put a player through waivers, you're letting teams know they don't want anything in return,'' said Scott Boras, a prominent agent who negotiated Alex Rodriguez's $252 million, 10-year contract with Texas.

Ramirez was placed on waivers two days after the Red Sox announced they would not exercise their option to bring back manager Grady Little. The Red Sox made it to the seventh game of the AL championship series and led the Yankees 5-2 with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

Little left Martinez in the game, and New York tied it with three runs in the eighth then won on Aaron Boone's homer in the 11th. Afterward, Little was criticized severely by fans and newspaper columnists for sticking with Martinez.

In 12 playoff games, five against Oakland and seven against New York, Ramirez hit .265.

He signed as a free agent with Boston on Dec. 13, 2000, and John Henry's group bought the team in February 2002.

Ramirez spent seven seasons with Cleveland then hit .306, .349 and .325 over the next three years with Boston. He led the AL in batting in 2002 and was second to teammate Bill Mueller's .326 in 2003. He has 111 homers and 336 RBIs with the Red Sox.

''This club inherited this contract. Their analysis must consider something other than his performance on the field,'' Boras said. ''When you look at his on-the-field performance, I think he's performing at a very high level. Obviously, the club must have other factors in their decision.''

In 2003, Ramirez led the AL with a .427 on-base percentage and 28 intentional walks, outstanding numbers for a team like Boston that places special emphasis on a player's ability to get on base. He also had 37 homers and 104 RBIs.

Ramirez is a diligent student of hitting, often analyzing video studying tapes of himself at the plate. But he is an average, often nonchalant fielder who lacks hustle on the basepaths. The Red Sox would have plenty of hitting without him since they set a major-league record last season with a .491 slugging percentage.

They also would lose some of his quirks.

He was benched by Little late in the 2003 season after he missed a crucial series against the Yankees with a sore throat and fever, yet got together with New York infielder Enrique Wilson to reminisce 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, Ramirez tossed the ball into the stands after making a nice catch, thinking there were three outs when there were only two.

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

He also is still owed $5 million of his $16 million signing bonus. The team holds $20 million options for both 2009 and 2010.

AP sports writer Ronald Blum contributed to this story.

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