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Friday, August 08, 2008

Report: MLB Investigating Manny's Boston Exit

The Boston Globe reports that MLB is investigating Manny Ramirez' exit from the Red Sox, with the beef in question being alleged "dogging it":
Feeling a little duped, Red Sox Nation? Still wondering if this whole thing was on the level? You are not alone. The commissioner's office is investigating the circumstances of Manny's final hours with the Red Sox. The Globe has learned (from a source with direct knowledge of the inquiry) that Bud Selig directed Major League Baseball executive vice president Rob Manfred to contact all parties for an explanation of how things unfolded around last week's trading deadline. According to the source, Manfred has yet to report back to the commissioner.

Here's why Selig's office is looking into the matter:

The Red Sox had an option to retain Ramírez in 2009 for $20 million. They had the same option for 2010. Ramírez, who will turn 37 next season, wanted to be a free agent at the end of this season. His agent wanted the same thing. Boras inherited Ramírez's old contract and stood to earn nothing until Manny signed a new one. It was in the interest of the player and the agent to have the options dropped.

Manny's only leverage was withholding services and playing at half speed. So that's what he did. Sitting out games against Seattle and the Yankees, jogging down the first base line (and maybe even looking at those three strikes against Mariano Rivera), he sent the message that he wanted out. He made sure the Sox knew he could not be trusted to play hard if they kept him until the end of the season with the options intact.

This came via BTF, from which I quote commenter Srul Itza's observation:
Manny played in 100 of Boston's 109 games while he was there. Only Dustin Pedrioa played in more, and Youkilis played in as many.

While he was there, he put up a .299/.398/.529/.927 line, good for a 140 OPS+ - better than last year.

Of course, he really started playing at half-speed after the All Star break, when the agitating for a trade really hit high gear, putting up a paltry .351/.467/.622/1.089 line.

Of course, this doesn't explain Manny's rollover during one of the Angels series, but I'm sure there's plenty more where that came from. This is very likely MLB wanting to punish Scott Boras, and there's almost no way they'll be able to do anything about this even if they do uncover something.

Update: The Times reports there is no investigation.

Update 2: The above-linked Times story has now changed; the title reads, "Bud Selig questions Dodgers' Manny Ramirez trade":

The Dodgers are in no jeopardy of losing Manny Ramirez, but the baseball commissioner's office is reviewing issues surrounding the trade that brought him to Los Angeles.

Commissioner Bud Selig has asked Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, to determine the facts behind Ramirez's departure from Boston, a baseball source said today, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter had not been resolved.

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Of course, intentionally sitting out games against tough, hard-throwing righties certainly helped Manny keep his stats from falling a bit.

What's interesting is that the contract provisions Manny found so onerous - i.e., the team options for the next two years - would be illegal and unenforceable in California, which limits personal services contracts to 7 years. Had he signed the exact same contract in December 2000 with one of the teams in California, he simply could have walked away and declared himself a free agent after the 2007 season. I wonder if his California-based agent told him about this, helping to raise his ire.
The thing I find most compelling about all this is that Boras would have gotten zero percent of his 2009 and 2010 options, so it was directly in Boras' interest to have something like this happen.

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