What's Next: Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Omar Minaya and More

The deadline for post-season eligibility is August 31. Teams can (and likely will) still add players through waiver trades after that date, but a team that adds a player to their organization after August will be without that player’s services should the team make the playoffs. With that in mid, we’ll look at the Manny situation, look ahead to what the future might hold with a couple of aging Tigers and examine a huge mess a prominent GM has created for himself.

Manny Being Waived?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been without the services of Manny Ramirez for much of the season, but he was recently activated from the disabled list. Ramirez is in the final year of a two-year, $40 million deal he signed after the 2008 season and the Dodgers have fallen out of the playoff race in the National League West. Because waiver trades take some time, the Dodgers have to move quickly to give themselves time to move their aging slugger.

It had been assumed that Ramirez would hit the waiver wire early this week, but as of Wednesday morning, the Dodgers hadn’t yet made that move. Once it happens (which should be very, very soon), it’s expected that Ramirez will pass cleanly through the NL teams, allowing American League clubs the chance to make a claim.**********************

Word is coming in from Chicago that the White Sox have every intention of claiming Ramirez. It is expected that once that happens, the Dodgers will simply allow Ramirez to go to Chicago on a straight waiver claim, though the two sides will have 48 hours to work out a trade. Simply put, the Dodgers could use to save the remaining money on Ramirez’s deal a lot more than they could use a middling prospect they would get in return.

Chicago made an attempt to trade for Ramirez just moments before the non-waiver deadline, but were rebuffed by the Dodgers at that time. Now standing just 3.5 games behind the division leading Twins, Chicago plans to pull out the stops and open the checkbook to make a run.

The interesting part of this is that Los Angeles has waited so long to waive Manny. A player cannot be waived while on the disabled list, so they didn’t have the opportunity prior to last Saturday. Ramirez is active now, so I wonder why they would be waiting? It’s not sound strategy to hold on to him, financially or otherwise.

Damon Elects to Stay with Tigers

In easily the most publicized waiver claim this year, the Red Sox claimed one of their old heroes in Tigers DH Johnny Damon on Monday. Damon, who signed a one-year deal with Detroit in March, negotiated a no-trade clause into his Tigers deal that included the right to block 21 teams from acquiring him. Boston was listed among those teams so Damon would have had to approve any deal to Boston. Not just a trade, he would have had to waive his no-trade rights in order for the Tigers to let him go on a waiver claim as well.

After discussing his options with his current teammates and the management in Detroit, Damon rejected the Red Sox bid and has decided to remain a Tiger, despite getting no assurances that the Tigers will attempt to re-sign him this winter. Damon has stated frequently throughout the season that he wants to stay in Detroit beyond this year. There is little doubt that the Tigers won’t at least make him an offer after the season.

Damon has struggled at times with Detroit, faring especially poorly with runners in scoring position (.196 average), but has maintained a high OBP and has collected 30 doubles.

Magglio Done in Detroit?

One of Damon’s current teammates with the Tigers, Magglio Ordonez, has missed the past few weeks and now it looks unlikely he’ll make it back this year from a broken ankle suffered in late July. Ordonez was the subject of much debate in 2009 when he began the season in a horrendous slump. At one point the Tigers benched Ordonez and there was thought they might release him before a vesting option in his contract could kick in, guaranteeing an $18 million salary for 2010.

The Tigers allowed that option to vest and Magglio played very well in the first half this year. He was again on pace for yet another option to vest, one that would pay him $15 million next year, before the injury sidelined him. The Tigers will pay his $3 million buyout after the season and Ordonez will become  a free agent. Detroit figures to offer the former batting champ a one or two year deal for significantly fewer dollars. Given his last two seasons, it will likely be the best deal Ordonez can get.

Mets are a Mess

The New York Mets need to take a good hard look in the mirror once this season ends and decide how to proceed. Their manager, Jerry Manuel, has been on and off the hot seat all year and will likely be relieved on his duties once the season ends. The future of GM Omar Minaya is less certain, he may get another year to try to figure this out.

The Mets have been major players in free agency of the past few year, throwing boat loads of cash at filling holes on their roster. It hasn’t worked. Their best minor league prospects are already in New York and the rest of the upper levels of the organization are thin at best. It’s not all bad, of course, they still have David Wright, Ike Davis looks like he may stick as a regular first baseman, and they have finally unlocked the talent hiding inside Angel Pagan.

But the free spending ways have been largely foolish. Jason Bay has been a huge disappointment. Closer Francisco Rodriguez is out for the year after a fist fight with his girlfriend’s father. The Mets have reportedly looked into trying to void his contract, which isn’t going to happen, and will only cause a greater rift between KRod and the organization. Apparently player relations are not high on their list of priorities given the mishandling of Carlos Beltran‘s knee injury earlier in the year.

Unfortunately for New York, there doesn’t seem to be an easy fix for this team, no matter the direction they go. If they decide to keep Minaya and continue to trow money at their problems, they’ll have to spend a ton and still won’t be able to fill all their holes. The only thing that will do is make matters worse. If they go with a rebuilding effort, they’ll have to take pennies on the dollar to unload the big contracts of guys like Bay, Rodriguez, and second baseman Luis Castillo, not to mention Oliver Perez.

Frankly, no GM in baseball has gotten less out his owners money recently than Minaya. Castillo was handed a four-year, $25 million deal in 2008 and so far has played as an average player in just one of the first three year, the other two falling well below average. Perez was given a three-year, $36 million deal in 2009 and so far has repaid the Mets generosity with 109 innings of 6.77 ERA ball. He’s walked 95 batters in that time.

This is a team that already has over $108 million committed to the 2011 payroll (according to Cot’s) including $18 million to Bay, $20 million to Beltran, and $12 million each to KRod and Perez. That number does not include an $11 million club option of SS Jose Reyes, which they will undoubtedly pick up. With all that money already committed and all those holes to be filled, Minaya has created a disaster in Queens. If he is allowed another year to sabotage the organization, the Wilpons are dumber than I thought.

Tags: Chicago White Sox Detroit Tigers Francisco Rodriguez Jason Bay Johnny Damon Jose Reyes LA Dodgers Magglio Ordonez Manny Ramirez New York Mets Oliver Perez Omar Minaya

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