Waiting For Signings Of The Times
Written by Fred Mitchell   
Saturday, 17 January 2009

With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Arizona and Florida, there are enough unsigned free agents to field an All-Star team.

Among the notables unsigned is 500 Home Run Club member Manny Ramirez, who was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from Boston late last season.

Other unsigned stars include Bobby Abreu, Ben Sheets, Adam Dunn, Rafael Furcal, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Garrett Anderson, Jason Varitek, Andy Pettitte, Joe Crede, Kenny Rogers, Pudge Rodriguez, Orlando Hudson, Tom Glavine and Orlando Cabrera.

The Dodgers made Ramirez a contract offer, but it was for just two years at $45 million, plus a third year option for $15 million. After Ramirez’s agent did not respond immediately to the offer, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti withdrew it. There has been limited dialogue since then between Colletti and Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras.

Ramirez energized the Dodgers in the second half of last season as they captured the NL West and shocked the Chicago Cubs with a first-round sweep. Ramirez batted .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in 53 games with the Dodgers. But Ramirez will be 37 this year, making his desire for a 4-year deal difficult to accommodate, particularly for a National League team. An American League team could possibly justify such an investment knowing that a designated hitter role could be available at the end of the deal.

The Dodgers are planning to reduce their team payroll from last year’s $120 million.

Throughout the league, the current United States economic instability has made for delayed signings and trades. The Cubs, for example, would love to make a trade bid for 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres. But both the Cubs and the Padres are in the process of being sold, meaning the new owners would have to sign off on any long-term, multi-million deal.