Indians: Little chance Ramirez will return to Cleveland
Updated: Monday December 11, 2000 1:32 AM
"Faint chance, remote chance, unlikely. Those are probably the best words to use," Indians general manager John Hart said. "It's a faint pulse."
Later Sunday, Hart called agent Jeff Moorad and asked for another meeting.
"It feels like we're in the home stretch," Moorad said. "Progress has been made with every team. Cleveland has always been his first choice. Whether the economics come together, I'm not sure."
Moorad also met with Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, who spent two days in California last week trying to work out a deal. Moorad wouldn't characterize the status of talks with the Red Sox, but did discuss his afternoon meeting with the Indians.
"I would paint a slightly more optimistic version," Moorad said, "but it is true we have not found common ground. We shared a number of ideas that we felt made sense for them to evaluate."
Moorad said Hart had forwarded the ideas to the team's ownership.
"John called back some time ago and said that he was going to let Larry Dolan's people, I think his law partner, lay out a specific set of concerns they had about our position and would get back to us."
While Moorad said four teams are interested in Ramirez, he added that the Red Sox and Indians are at the "forefront."
"I talked to Manny. I talked to his agent," Red Sox manager Jimy Williams said. "I don't know what the deal is with him."
Before the latest meeting with Duquette, Moorad outlined what had happened last week with Boston.
"We spent two days attempting to find common ground," he said. "Although we made significant progress, we're still not where a deal can come together with the Red Sox."
The New York Mets have said they have minimal interest in the 28-year-old outfielder, who hit .351 last season with 38 homers and 122 RBIs in 439 at-bats.
"The Mets have a cautious interest," Moorad said. He said general manager Steve Phillips has brought up Ramirez's name during talks about one of Moorad's other clients, pitcher Bobby J. Jones.
After the season, Moorad presented the Indians a proposal for a $200 million, 10-year contract, which would be the largest in sports history. Cleveland countered with a $119 million, seven-year proposal, with a significant amount of the money deferred.
"The dollars are beyond, or well beyond, where the Indians feel they can go," Hart said. "The dollars are unacceptable at this time. Where we think this thing is going doesn't work for us."
Hart said he thought, all things being equal, Ramirez's first choice was to return to Cleveland. He didn't think Moorad was keeping talks with the Indians alive to pressure Boston.
"I don't think he's using us a pawn in this because we're not really big players here," Hart said. "I know Jeff is not using us as a stalking horse. I wouldn't allow that to happen."