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Ramirez Offer Comes Up Short

Manny Ramirez's long-term future in Cleveland is in doubt, but Indians general manager John Hart said Thursday it is unlikely the club will trade the hard-hitting right fielder this week.

"We are not shopping Manny," Hart said after agent Jeff Moorad rejected Cleveland's offer of a $75 million, five-year contract extension.

Hart said the Indians thought the offer was fair and one they felt Ramirez, who has said he wants to remain in Cleveland, would accept.

"The offer we made was carefully thought out," Hart said. "We made an historical offer for this franchise. It was our hope that he would (accept)."

Moorad said the sticking point is deferred money, including $25 million that would be paid from 2001-2025.

"The way we calculate Manny's contract, it would be worth $10 million to $11 million a year because of the deferred money," Moorad told The Plain Dealer for a story Thursday.

Moorad did not immediately return a telephone message left by the AP.

Hart didn't think the deferred money was an issue, saying "$15 million is $15 million and $75 million is $75 million." Hart said that by turning down the deal, Moorad is sticking with his desire to have his client test the free-agent market this winter.

"It's still consistent and a clear statement that Manny's priority is to establish his market value," Hart said. "And the way to do that is through free agency."

Hart said it was unlikely that the Indians would make another offer before the end of the season.

"I would think some things would have to happen for that to happen," said Hart, who declined to be specific. "I don't know that we would make another offer."

Hart said the Indians, who were off Thursday, were attempting to add some pitching help before Monday's trade deadline as they try to get back into to the playoff race.

Cleveland, which has won the AL Central the past five seasons, entered Thursday's action 10 games behind first-place Chicago in the division and 3 1/2 behind Oakland, which leads the wild-card race.

Because the Indians are on the edge of playoff contention, trading Ramirez is probably not an option, Hart said.

Hart also confirmed that the Indians had serious talks with Philadelphia about ace Curt Schilling, but right-hander wanted to stay in the NL. Schilling was traded by the Phillies to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

"We thought we had an opportunity with Schilling," Hart said. "I think perhaps our place in the standings was also part of it."

Hart dismissed criticism the Indians only made the offer to Ramirez to appease fans, anxious to salvage a disappointing season.

"Anybody who would suggest that, doesn't get it," Hart said. "This was a commitment from ownershi, a very long commitment."

Ramirez, who last year became the first player in more than 60 years to top the 160-RBIs mark, is hitting .325 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs despite missing more than six weeks with a strained left hamstring.

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