The Dodgers have learned that Manny Ramirez will be theirs for another season -- at a price tag of $20 million.
Ramirez’s agent, Scott Boras, told General Manager Ned Colletti on Friday that Ramirez would not exercise the escape clause in his contract that would have let the former All-Star outfielder re-enter the free-agent market at age 37.
Ramirez had until Tuesday to inform the cash-strapped Dodgers if he intended to void the second year of a two-year, $45-million contract he signed in the spring -- something that was viewed as highly unlikely in baseball circles because of the kind of year Ramirez had.
Although Ramirez just completed a season in which he was suspended 50 games for violating baseball’s drug policy and had a significant dip in form, Colletti said he was pleased that Ramirez would be back.
“There was no doubt he had his struggles this past season,” he said. “We still feel that he’s a very good hitter and maybe with a winter off and a chance to regroup, he can come back with a better frame of mind and his confidence rebuilt.”
In the 27 games before his suspension, he hit .348 with six home runs and 20 runs batted in. In 77 regular-season games after his return, he hit .269 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs. He batted .281 with a home run and two RBIs in the Dodgers’ eight postseason games.
Boras blamed Ramirez’s two-month midseason layoff for the late-season slump.
“That’s an unusual circumstance,” he said. “That’s something he’s never dealt with, mentally or physically.”
Boras said he didn’t know if Ramirez could have earned a larger payday by opting for free agency and acknowledged that the suspension could have hurt his value on the open market.
“I think it’s easier when you don’t have to speculate about the numbers,” Boras said, adding that Ramirez’s decision to remain with the Dodgers was based mostly on his comfort level in Los Angeles.
“Obviously, he enjoys L.A.,” Boras said. “If he went into the marketplace, the real negative was that he could end up playing in a place he wasn’t comfortable playing.”
Referring to Ramirez’s tumultuous tenure with the Red Sox, Boras added, “After playing in Boston, that was important to him. . . . It was going to take the right situation for him to leave where he had taken so long to get to.”
With Ramirez back, the Dodgers can resume searching for a team to which they could deal outfielder Juan Pierre, who has two years and $18.5 million left on his contract. Colletti and his top assistants will head to Chicago for the general managers meetings, which start Monday. Meanwhile, five more Dodgers filed for free agency: Vicente Padilla, Jeff Weaver, Brad Ausmus, Jim Thome and Guillermo Mota.