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Report: Rays agree to terms with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez

Jan 21, 2011, 8:08 PM EDT

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Oh, what a night.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Rays have agreed to terms with both Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, pending physicals.

According to Heyman, Damon will receive a $5.25 million base salary with $750,000 worth of incentives based on attendance. Ramirez will get $2 million guaranteed. That’s right. Just $2 million. I think we have a new winner for best bargain contract of the offseason.

Are we sure the Rays are in rebuilding mode? Goodness. The American League East should be fun to watch this season.

Anyway, the additions of Damon and Ramirez all but guarantee that top prospect outfielder Desmond Jennings will begin the season with Triple-A Durham.

It’s not clear if Damon or Ramirez will be the primary left fielder in Tampa Bay, but let’s just state the obvious and say that either would be a tremendous downgrade from Carl Crawford.

UPDATE: Ken Davidoff of New York Newsday writes that agent Scott Boras conceived the idea of Damon and Ramirez as a package deal. Yeah, Damon’s deal isn’t necessarily a bargain, but at the combined price of $7.25 million, can you really complain?

UPDATE II: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that Ramirez’s contract does not include any incentives. So, it’s a flat $2 million. Jeff Francoeur is making more ($2.5 million) than Ramirez this season. Just saying. He’ll take his physical with the Rays on Monday.

  1. heiniemanush - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    I have a new favorite team in the AL East.

    • bigharold - Jan 22, 2011 at 4:07 AM

      Really? 2 to 1 Manny screws this up before the ASB.

      The only way to keep Manny engaged was to get him on a team with established veteran leadership to keep him from going of the reservation. Like the Yankees or the Angels, (thank the All Mighty that the Yankees didn’t sign Manny). I’d be amazed if he’s not DFA’ed before the trade deadline.

  2. baseballstars - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    Not bad signings, though Vlad is better than Ramirez. But they bring some leadership and experience to a team that needs it. I don’t think the Rays will drop off anywhere near as much as most experts project.

    • goawaydog - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:41 PM

      Manny? leadership? that’s the funniest thing I heard all week!

      • baseballstars - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:56 PM

        THEY bring LEADERSHIP and EXPERIENCE. Try learning some reading comprehension skills.

      • baseballstars - Jan 22, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        I also apologize if what I said sounded condescending.

    • fribnit - Jan 22, 2011 at 7:55 AM

      WOW, Manny and Leadership in the same sentance. THERE is something you don’t see every day!

      Manny is EXACTLY the wrong player to bring on to a team with impresionable young players.

      I agree, you could see him cut before the all-star break.

      The Rays have given up pitching, lost Crawford, and brought in their place two old men of rapidly diminishing skills and one with a “what me worry” attitude. lovely

      • fribnit - Jan 22, 2011 at 8:37 AM

        baseballstars: by saying THEY you are indicating that BOTH subjects of the sentance are bringing leadership and experiance. Otherwise you could have said “Damon brings leadership and they both bring experiance.”

        So goawaydog was right in what he said.

        These are DUMB signings for a team needing to rebuild. Two old men…… Damon is at least a good guy that will give it his best. Manny will soon realize that he is getting much less than he thinks he is worth and will start to pout and will become a liability to the team as he has in Boston and LA before.

      • baseballstars - Jan 22, 2011 at 11:43 AM

        “They” meaning the two of them together bring two variables. One brings one, the other brings the other variable. I don’t get why that’s so hard to understand.

  3. randomdigits - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    The Longoria deal is still way better then Manny for 1yr/2 mil.

    • D.J. Short - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:37 PM

      Yeah, that was unconscious hyperbole on my part. My apologies. I meant “of the winter.”

  4. Jonny 5 - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Well, it looks like the Yankees will have some stiff competition for second place in the AL east now……

    • baseballstars - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:32 PM

      I’m a Yankees fan, and I am very pessimistic about our team’s chances next season. Other than CC, we don’t have a starting pitcher worth a darn. Even if Pettitte comes back, he won’t replicate the success he had last year. Hughes only had about a month or so of quality starts, and Nova/Mitre does nothing for me. It’s going to be 2008 all over again.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:45 PM

        I wouldn’t get too down on them just yet. If the Yankees don’t pick up someone else’s ace by the TDL, I’ll be shocked.

      • spudchukar - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:22 PM

        The question is, will they still be in the race by then?

    • spudchukar - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:19 PM

      Do the other Eastern Division sharks smell Yankee blood in the water?

      • mtner77 - Jan 22, 2011 at 3:34 AM

        “Do the other Eastern Division sharks smell Yankee blood in the water?”

        Yep.

  5. uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    If Manny felt he was being underpaid was he was making $20M per I wonder what $2M per is going to make him feel like. Not only that but on the very same night he’s also signed with a team that’s paying Damon almost $4M more too. Way to stroke Manny ego. Could be a big, big problem.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:42 PM

      I think maybe he might come down to earth and work on his game more, trying for a better deal next season. With his woman hormone thing, 50 game suspension, and injuries, it’s the best he can hope for right now, a chance to prove he has something left in the tank. I guess he’s a DH now.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:01 PM

        Do you honestly believe that Manny will give 100% or even 75%? He will be over 40 during the 2012 season if it comes to that, regardless of what he has “left in the tank” with his history on top of his age no team will pay him anymore then what he was offered here come 2012. Using Thome as a benchmark for Manny next year even Thome with the year he had at 40 could only muster a $3+M contract and he has no baggage associated with him.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:24 PM

        Only 3 million….. LOL! I love that one UYF…

        In all seriousness, it’s a damn toss up with Manny. Which way will he go? Not even Manny knows imo.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:46 PM

        Jonny 5 – By baseball salary standards $3M is chump change and by Manny’s standards I’m sure he considers it chump change also.
        My point was if Thome can only muster a $3M contract with the year he had and no baggage. There is no way Manny come 2012 regardless of how he performs in 2011 will even get that in 2012 being 40 at that time and the baggage he carries along with him.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:28 PM

        Oh I know uyf, It still sounds funny to me no matter which way you cut it. I wasn’t disagreeing with you.
        Manny is getting paid 2 million regardless, and I have to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m not one to say he won’t at least try his best. What my honest opinion is. Manny will kind of stink in TB. I don’t think he’ll thrive in that big park. Then he’ll begin to point fingers, and cause a stir. But I still have to give him the benefit here. He still has skills and teams that aren’t “loaded” with money even are willing to take a 2 million dollar gamble on him. That tells me I’m not the only one who thinks he has something to contribute. He may even prove to be a good DH afterall. Who knows?

      • uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 1:06 PM

        To Jonny 5 – I understand your point. I guess it was me who misunderstood your comment. Sorry.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 22, 2011 at 1:32 PM

        Lol!! no apologies needed here. I do realize it’s tough to understand how things are being applied just by reading typed words. I think you’re a great baseball fan and commenter. You’re respectful and think things through. I always read your posts and even if I may not agree, I respect your point of view because of those things.

    • coloradothistle - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:50 PM

      I read somewhere that Manny is already owed something like $10M already from the Red Sox and Dodgers whether or not he plays next year. So this may be a question of playing against the Sox and Yankees on the big stage rather than what they’re paying him.

  6. proudlycanadian - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    Boras can rest now. His old timers are no longer homeless. I wonder where Vlady and Podsednik will land? My guess is that The Rangers and the Angels are in the mix for Vlady; while the Angels and the Jays are in the mix for Podsednik.

  7. uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 8:52 PM

    …how does adding an aging 37+ year old Damon who’s fielding was suspect 3 or 4 years ago and who has lost most of his power numbers and some of his speed along with adding the cancer (AKA Manny Ramirez) who will be 39 years old shortly after the season substantially improve a team. There is a reason Manny has the nickname “Manny being Manny” and anyone who has watched him the last 3 years especially knows why.

    • spudchukar - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:51 PM

      They will both be DH’s. With occasional outfield duty. Neither can play more than around 100 games. They hit from opposite sides of the plate. They have Zobrist, a switchhitter who plays everywhere, Upton who protects the gaps if one of them is inserted into the outfield lineup, and take some pressure off of Jennings who they aren’t sure is ready to assume the everyday role. I love their versatility and with Maddon at the helm, he will master the match-ups. Johnson, Jaso, Joyce and Damon against righties, with Jennings, Manny, and Shoppach positioned to mash the lefties. Maybe Manny even plays a little 1B once in a while.
      Granted it is a gamble with both, but remember who they play, an added incentive to grease the ol’ joints and perhaps get the maximum out of the aging one-time rivals. Under their budget constraints, and considering what is left in the free market, I think they excelled. And Damon and Ramirez ought to help put fans in those seats.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:19 PM

        If being in the heat of a pennant race last year didn’t put people in the seats. I doubt very seriously that having Damon and Manny rotate in the line up will.

      • spudchukar - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM

        Point taken. The situation there is tough. But they do pack ‘em in for the Sox and Yanks. It is attendance consistency they lack. But where they are beginning to excel, is in TV revenue. Granted they will never challenge the numbers of NESN or YES, but they are pleased with their TV growth, and these moves can only help. Kudos to their franchise and ownership group for the effort!

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:52 PM

        “If being in the heat of a pennant race last year didn’t put people in the seats. I doubt very seriously that having Damon and Manny rotate in the line up will.”

        I’m not sure if anything can excite the Tampa “fan base” but Manny did a lot for the Dodgers…

      • uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 11:57 AM

        Sabathia, my friend. As you well know Tampa/St. Pete is not LA. Also, Manny didn’t move the needle one bit in attendance in LA. They drew about 46,000 before Manny during Manny and will draw about 46,000 now that Manny gone.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

        To spudchuker – You might be interested in reading the attached link of the Rays TV revenue. While you are correct that their viewership has increased pretty substantially over the past few years. They have reaped virtually no additional monies from that increase. As the attached link shows virtually all the monies generated from that increase is kept by FOX. In fact that will remain the case through 2016 as the piece states. So the viewership part of your comment is correct but the as you put “where they are beginning to excel, is in TV revenue” is totally inaccurate.
        Here is the link I mentioned:

        http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/red-hot-rays-double-tv-audience-8212-but-ad-revenue-gains-go-mostly-to-fox/1093834

  8. sabosgoggles - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    Are players allowed to sign with teams as a “package”? I’ve never heard of it being done (outside Sparky Lyle’s brilliant “Year I Owned the Yankees”), and I vaguely remember it being forbidden by the CBA.

  9. Jack Marshall - Jan 21, 2011 at 9:39 PM

    Manny provides LEADERSHIP??? Did somebody actually write that?

  10. uyf1950 - Jan 21, 2011 at 10:40 PM

    You know what I find comical is some of these very same fans comments. If the Yankees signed either one of these 2 guys never mind both of them the majority of comment would revolve around the Yankees being “desperate”. Tampa Bay signs them and it’s comments like the “Eastern Division sharks smell Yankee blood in the water” or “now the Yankees will have stiff competition for 2nd place”. All of that may very well be true I just find it ironic that Tampa Bay signs 2 if not over the hill players certainly darn close to over the hill players and there’s blood in the water. Has everyone forgotten the players that they lost (Crawford, Soriano and a good chunk of their bullpen). For a team that was offensively challenged to start out with Damon and Manny are hardly adequate replacements. One final comment, it would appear that everyone has given the division to Boston without a single game having been played yet. A lot can happen between April 3rd and Oct. 3rd. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again it’s never a good idea to underestimate or count the Yankees out.

    • spudchukar - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:22 PM

      Didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers Eisenhower dude, and you are absolutely correct in your assessment that if the Yanks had signed either it would have been a field day in bloggerland, but the Rays aren’t the Pinstripes. They are young, talented, hungry and inexperienced, and play for a franchise that is floundering. It is David vs. Goliath. Slay away Rays.
      About my “blood in the water statement”, I stand by it wholeheartedly. The effort the Jays, Rays, and Orioles are making is commendable. They could have rolled over, thrown in the towel and promulgated press releases that they just cannot compete with the financial firepower of Yanks and Sox. The Bombers are vulnerable, and I am sure that encourages and incentivizes their competition. And for the record I will never count out your boys, I even root for them against many teams including the dastardly Sox.

    • Bochy's Head/Timmy's Bong - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:37 PM

      “darn close to over the hill players”

      Manny’s 2010 .382 wOBA says hello! (23rd of 270 ML players with 300+ PAs last year; better than, among others, Uggla, Braun, Longoria, Crawford, Fielder, Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez, etc, etc.)

      Sure, you want to limit his time with a glove, but the dude could still be quite valuable.

    • shakemysins - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:14 AM

      Manny might be old and crazy, but his batting average is still better than a majority of Tampa’s 2010 team. And by majority, I mean everyone but Crawford.

  11. jh0088 - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    listen, neither Damon nor Ramirez are at the stages in their careers where they are going to make the same kinds of contributions that they have in the past.

    Ramirez will be an average DH, and has been more injury prone that ever over the last two years so don’t expect him to play in more than 100 games. And putting him in the role model position for an already lazy prone BJ Upton is dangerous.

    And Damon in the outfield has been a joke since he left Kansas City twelve years ago. He can’t throw. I mean honestly, how can a guy whose arm would not put him in the starting outfield for my pickup Saturday afternoon softball game in Pacific Palisades play in the field every day for major league clubs?

    The Rays got one DH with power and and one DH with Average in this deal and I can’t see this making a difference in the AL East.

    • jh0088 - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:10 AM

      but i will reply to my pwnn post… this should increase attendance by 12 people. at least.

  12. baseballstars - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:46 PM

    The Rays are innovators. They plan on using Manny Ramirez as a short fielder to cut off throws made by Johnny Damon.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    I’d rather have Andruw Jones than either of these guys, and apparently Cashman felt the same way

    • mtner77 - Jan 22, 2011 at 3:43 AM

      “I’d rather have Andruw Jones than either of these guys, and apparently Cashman felt the same way”

      Who care’s how Cashman felt. He ain’t count. “How do Hank/Hal feel??

  14. frankvzappa - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    bargain? you keep using that word, i do not think it means what you think it means

    • jh0088 - Jan 22, 2011 at 3:11 AM

      I have built up an immunity to bargains, and iocane powder.

  15. uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 7:20 AM

    Gentlemen, anyone that this these signing are anything more then a joke is kidding themselves. The Rays paying close to $6M for a 37 year old Damon whose defensive skills are laughable and even whose offensive skills skills have been in decline over the last there years in virtually category. Then there is Manny. Come on, does anyone on this site honestly believe he is going to be a positive influence on this team. Someone above mentioned while he has lost power but he still hits for average. I guess that’s true, but again his offensive numbers have dropped across the board over each of the last 3 years including his BA. In fact over 75% of his hits the last 2 years have been singles. Teams don’t sign DH’ers to hit singles. They sign DH’ers to be offensive threats and Manny is no longer an offensive threat. Besides it’s not just the decline in Manny’s stats that are the problem here. It’s his attitude and motivation. He has a terrible attitude and no motivation to make this work (money is Manny only motivation and ofter that’s not enough). Not a good combination at any price. Gentlemen in my opinion the signing of these 2 players has made absolutely no difference in Tampa Bay’s ability to compete in 2011.
    Someone mentioned above the Yankees are vulnerable, sure they are but so is ever other team. There is not one team in the AL East that doesn’t have a weakness or 2 on it’s team and that includes the Red Sox.

    • indaburg - Jan 22, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      These signings are not a joke. They are simply the best a small market team can do in a very competitive market. No one in their right mind would claim that Ramirez was the offensive threat he was a few years ago but to say he is no longer an offensive threat at all is also ridiculous. The Rays are a better team today than they were 24 hours ago. The only people who hit better for average on the Rays last year than either Damon or Manny were Longoria and Crawford. The Rays’ DH situation last year was also deplorable.

      With a good closer, I would feel even better about the Rays’ chances for a competitive 2011, but as we saw last year with Soriano and Benoit, the Rays are very good at finding diamonds in the rough.

      As for Manny’s motivation, I’m hoping his hatred of the Red Sox will be sufficient.

      • uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 12:07 PM

        To indaburg – You honestly feel for the $8M combined Damon & Manny are costing the Rays for one season that had they committed that much money early they couldn’t have signed a “better” player they what they got combined for these two guys. You talk about their batting averages. Teams don’t sign singles hitters to DH. Which is what both of these guys are now. They sign singles hitters to lead off and steal bases something neither of these guys can or will do with any proficiency now.

      • spudchukar - Jan 22, 2011 at 1:49 PM

        I still say it is an interesting gamble, and the Rays and Maddon are pretty shrewd. I cannot argue with most of your assessments of their talent, UFY but Damon is still somewhat of a base stealing threat, and both guys have the potential to be okay RBI guys. Granted both are liabilities defensively, but neither will be out there much, with the Rays defensive flexibilities. Clutch hitting has been problematic for them, and the veteran presence could ease some pressure. They got them for cheap, collectively, and they can always flip them or release them, so from a business perspective it isn’t all that risky. It creates some Buzz. And lets face it, nobody is going to be comfortable with either of those guys at bat in game situations, which has been an area the Rays have struggled in recent years.

      • indaburg - Jan 22, 2011 at 2:58 PM

        I don’t know if they could have signed a better player. If they could’ve have, they would have. The Rays are a pretty shrewd team, like spud said, and they’re not the type to spend money foolishly. The free agent market was crazy this year–I mean, look at the kind of money Jayson Werth got. Ridiculous. The Rays may have gotten someone to agree to $7.25 million/yr, but they probably would’ve wanted multiple years, which the Rays can’t afford. With Damon/Manny, they get a twofer. It’s a pretty good gamble.

        The Rays were awful, just awful, at DH last year. I know teams don’t sign DHs for their ability to hit singles, but even singles would be vast improvement from how awful everyone was at DH last year (Burrell, Aybar, Johnson). Manny may not be the home run hitting machine he once was, but I still contend that this signing is not a joke, and that he is a still a viable offensive threat who has made the Rays more competitive than they were before his signing. Here are some more numbers for you (credit goes to draysbay.com):

        “However, even with battling injuries and a declining bat, Manny posted a .298 / .409 / .460 line, good for a .870 OPS and a .382 wOBA. That’s a better line than anyone on the Rays posted last season, including Longoria and Crawford; Longoria had a higher slugging yet lower on base percentage and wOBA, while Crawford had a higher batting average and slugging, yet lower everything else. Even if Manny’s bat doesn’t improve any from last season, he’s still an incredible hitter and will likely be the best DH the Rays have ever had.

        Oh, and per Peter Gammons, Manny is in “unbelievable shape”. Remember, he’s only one season removed from hitting a homerun ever 22 plate appearances, better than everyone else on the Rays outside of Carlos Pena (who averaged one every 20 plate appearances last season).”

        (As a side note, I can’t remember a post about the Rays ever garnering so many comments on Hardball Talk. Buzz accomplished.)

      • uyf1950 - Jan 22, 2011 at 3:47 PM

        To indabug – I commend both your support and dedication to Rays. It’s unfortunate that the Rays don’t have more fans like yourself. I wish them and you luck this upcoming season competition is good for everyone. Enjoy the season, my friend.

  16. yankeesfanlen - Jan 22, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Johnny + Manny X 2=Beep-beep. Guess that sounds about right.

  17. steve7921 - Jan 22, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    If the Rays were willing to cut Burrell while paying him $8 mil last year, I am sure Friedman will cut Manny at the the first sign of problems!

  18. thinman61 - Jan 22, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Can Kevin Millar be far behind?

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