Manny Ramirez is flying to Los Angeles for a face-to-face meeting with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt amid great optimism that a deal can finally be forged.
The Manny-McCourt meeting is expected to be the ultimate step in finalizing the long-discussed two-year contract with a player opt-out clause after one, assuming all goes well. Negotiations have been contentious at times, and the main parties apparently want to meet to patch up their differences before spending the next one or two years together.
Ramirez's travel plans suggest an extremely positive development in the ultra-difficult negotiations between the mercurial superstar and the storied franchise.
The deal is still not quite done, according to Dodgers sources. However, there appears to be optimism on all sides. Ramirez was quoted on the Los Angeles Times Web site speaking optimistically about playing for the Dodgers.
It is believed the deal will be for the same $45 million -- $25 million for 2009 and $20 million for 2010 -- they've been talking about for quite awhile. Ramirez would have the option to opt out after the first year.
McCourt had been threatening in recent days to "start from scratch,'' or "start fresh,'' but it appears the deal is close to the same structure and money they've long been discussing.
ESPN Deportes Enrique Rojas first reported the sides had an agreement Tuesday evening, and while the sides have maintained that no deal is in place, it appears likely that they are headed that way.