Manny Ramirez, Athletics reach minor league deal

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Feb. 20 2012 6:27 p.m. MST

FILE - In this March 16, 2011, file photo, Tampa Bay Rays' Manny Ramirez warms up before a spring training baseball game against the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. The Oakland Athletics still have strong interest in signing Ramirez, who presents a low-risk investment for the rebuilding franchise. If things come together, and the 39-year-old Ramirez signs a deal, he first must serve a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy before he could play.

File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

PHOENIX — Manny Ramirez and the Oakland Athletics agreed on a minor league contract Monday that is worth approximately $500,000 if he's added to the big league roster.

The A's announced the deal and said Ramirez is expected to report to spring training by the end of the week, in time for Oakland's first full-squad workout Saturday. He is a non-roster invitee.

The 12-time All-Star is due to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for the A's. Barring rainouts, his first game could be May 30 — on his 40th birthday. But that didn't deter general manager Billy Beane and the Athletics.

"I am very pleased Billy was able to add Manny to our team," owner Lew Wolff said in an email. "I look forward to welcoming him and the entire team that Billy and his people have assembled for the coming season."

ESPN first reported earlier in the day that the sides had reached an agreement, speaking directly to Ramirez.

The A's made public their interest in the enigmatic slugger, who had been working out in Florida this winter.

For the small-budget A's, Ramirez presents little financial risk. They don't have to pay him during his suspension and will give him per diem money during the club's spring training stint in Phoenix, which is shorter than usual because of two season-opening games in Japan next month.

Oakland sent representatives to Florida this winter to watch workouts by Ramirez, who retired from the Tampa Bay Rays last season rather than serve a 100-game suspension. For Ramirez, this could become a chance to help mend his reputation — at least a little bit — and serve as a positive clubhouse influence on a young team.

The A's recently agreed to terms on a $36 million, four-year contract with highly regarded outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a Cuban defector who has expressed interest in playing with Ramirez.

Starving for offense, Oakland finished third in the AL West last season at 74-88 and ranked 12th out of 14 American League teams in runs.

At baseball's winter meetings in December, it was announced that Ramirez had applied for reinstatement. He had his suspension for a second failed drug test cut to 50 games because he sat out nearly all of last season. MLB had announced his retirement on April 8, saying he was notified "of an issue" under the drug program.

Ramirez ranks 14th on the career list with 555 home runs. He went 1 for 17 (.059) in five games last season for Tampa Bay, which had signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.02 million.

This would be the 20th major league season for Ramirez, a career .312 hitter with 1,831 RBIs.

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