PHOENIX (AP) — Slugger Manny Ramirez is close to signing a contract with the Oakland Athletics that would be worth approximately $500,000, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Monday.
ESPN first reported earlier in the day that the sides had reached agreement, speaking directly to Ramirez. The person confirmed the sides were closing in on a contract, speaking on condition of anonymity because Ramirez still must take a physical and likely another drug test.
The A's made public their interest in the 12-time All-Star, who is due to serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play for Oakland. Barring rainouts, his first game could be May 30 — on his 40th birthday.
He has been working out in Florida this winter, so he will now travel to Arizona to join his new team — probably in time for Oakland's first full-squad workout Saturday.
Ramirez was expected to sign a minor league deal, which would keep him off the 40-man roster. For the low-budget A's, Ramirez presents a low-risk bargain. They don't have to pay him during his suspension and will give him per diem money during the club's stint in the desert, which is shorter than usual because of two 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 repair his reputation 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.
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.