The waiver trading deadline is coming up one week from today, on Aug. 31, and the Dodgers have a way to maximize what they get out of Manny Ramirez for the final six weeks of the season. They have to let him go.
The Dodgers stand at 63-62, a whopping 12 games out of first place in the National League West, and they are even eight games in the loss column out of the wild card lead, chasing five teams. Whether the team realizes it or not, the Dodgers are out of contention.
There is no point in clinging to a fading hope of Ramirez leading the Dodgers to the promised land, when in fact the best they could hope for is winning, say, 87 games instead of 84, or something insignificant like that. Ramirez can't play the field in day games after night games, or at least he hasn't all season. He is best suited for an American League team, where he can serve as designated hitter, allowing his bat to remain in the lineup more often.
The White Sox showed the most interest in Ramirez before the July 31 trading deadline, but the Rays figure to be involved in the pursuit as well. Ramirez has a $20 million salary this season, so he has somewhere between $3.6 million and $4 million left this season, depending on the day he is moved. Payment of his salary this season is also deferred to 2011-2013, perhaps making him more attractive to interested teams.
The first step to dumping Manny is to waive him, something the Dodgers have yet to do. Once Ramirez is waived, other teams will have the opportunity to place a claim on him for a 48-hour period. If multiple teams make a claim, priority goes first to the National League, then to the American League, in reverse order of record. If Ramirez is claimed, the Dodgers can simply let him go to the claiming team, and the new team would be responsible for the remainder of his salary.
If nobody claims Ramirez, the Dodgers are free to trade him to any team. However, Ramirez does have a no-trade clause, meaning he would have to okay any movement to another team.
Even if the Dodgers have to pay some of the remaining salary to get rid of Ramirez, they should do it. Since his salary is a sunk cost at this point, any amount saved is found money. The only possible thing the Dodgers could gain by keeping Ramirez is two draft picks if he signs with another club, but that would require them to offer him arbitration. Given his $20 million salary this season, and the lukewarm market at best for him this offseason -- he's limited to American League only, in reality -- Ramirez would likely accept arbitration since he would get a salary much higher than he will receive on the open market. That's a risk the Dodgers cannot take.
If the Dodgers keep Ramirez past next Tuesday, they still aren't making the playoffs, and they won't get any draft picks when he leaves. The only way to get anything from Manny is to waive goodbye.