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Last call: How the Dodgers can sign Manny Ramirez or CC Sabathia

November 20, 2008 | 10:00 pm

Lastcall_2

There has been a lot of talk of whether the Dodgers should re-sign Manny Ramirez, or how they should forget Manny and sign CC Sabathia. But can they afford either one of them? Let's take a look at the Dodgers payroll for next season.

Last season, the Dodgers payroll was about $118 million, and remember, they didn't pay a penny for Manny, because the Red Sox paid his salary. Let's take a look at those players defintely coming back in 2009:

Under Contract (dollar amounts are in millions)

Infielders: None

Outfielders: Andruw Jones, $15.0; Juan Pierre, $10.0

Pitchers: Jason Schmidt, $12.0; Hiroki Kuroda, $10.0

Arbitration eligible (contract value estimated based on what similar players received in past arbitration cases)

Infielders: Russell Martin* ($5.0)

Outfielders: Andre Ethier* ($4.5)

Pitchers: Yhency Brazoban ($0.5); Jonathan Broxton ($2.0); Scott Proctor ($1.0).

*-Will probably be eligible for "Super Two" arbitration.

Players who aren't eligible for arbitration and can just have their contracts renewed:

Infielders: James Loney ($0.6); Blake DeWitt ($0.5); Chin-lung Hu ($0.4).

Outfielders: Jason Repko ($0.5); Matt Kemp ($0.7); Delwyn Young ($0.4).

Pitchers: Chad Billingsley ($0.6); Hong-Chih Kuo ($0.425); Clayton Kershaw ($0.4); James McDonald ($0.4); Eric Stults ($0.4); Ramon Troncoso ($0.4); Cory Wade ($0.5).

So that takes us to $66.325 million. Let's assume Frank McCourt is feeling generous, and agrees to increase the overall payroll by 10%. After all, there will be plenty of revenue generated from the new spring training facility in Arizona, especially with some seats going for $90 a game. So the Dodgers' target total payroll is about $129 million. There is still $62.675 million left. However, they still need a third baseman and a shortstop (let's assume Blake DeWitt is the every day second baseman).

At third base: Casey Blake made $6.1 million last season. Let's say he can be signed for three years, $24 million. That adds another $8 million to the payroll, bringing us to $74.325 million.

At shorstop: Rafael Furcal says he wants to come back. The Dodgers say they'd like him back. His agent says he wants a four-year deal and doesn't think his back problems should be an issue. Furcal made $13 million last season. So, let's say everyone wants to stay happy, and he signs a 4-year, $56-million deal. That adds another $14 million to the payroll, bringing us to $88.325 million.

They also need a backup catcher, so let's sign a guy for the $400,000 minimum. The payroll is now $88.725 million. And the opening-day roster so far would be:

Catchers: Russell Martin, random backup. First base: James Loney. Second base: Blake DeWitt. Third base: Casey Blake. Shortstops: Rafael Furcal, Chin-lung Hu. Outfielders: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Delwyn Young. Starting pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, James McDonald. Relievers: Scott Proctor, Yhency Brazoban, Hong-Chih Kuo, Cory Wade, Ramon Troncoso. Closer: Jonathan Broxton.

We still need another infielder, so let's lure Angel Berroa back by offering him $2.0 million. That brings us to $90.725 million. We need someone to fill the Mark Sweeney void, so let's bring in another guy at just above the league minimum, bringing the 2009 payroll to $91.125 million.

That leaves the Dodgers with two big holes: A starting pitcher and an outfielder (unless you want to take a chance that Andruw Jones will suddenly start hitting again). And we have $38 million left to spend. I say offer Manny a 4-year, $120-million contract. That brings us to $121 million in payroll next year, and leave $7 million for a starting pitcher. And if $30 million a year isn't good enough for Manny, then he can go elsewhere, sign someone like Adam Dunn for less, and offer a big deal to Sabathia or AJ Burnett. So, if Manny signs a 4-year, $120-million deal, here is the Dodgers' lineup next season:

Furcal, Martin, Ramirez, Loney, Ethier, Kemp, Blake, DeWitt/Berroa. You can win with that lineup.

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: The Dodgers can keep Russell Martin, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez next season. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

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