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- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
- Central Notes: Maddon, Dirks, Giambi, Indians
- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
- Dodgers Decline Option On Chad Billingsley
- West Notes: Sandoval, Lewis, Ethier, Angels
- AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays
- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
- Rockies Exercise LaTroy Hawkins’ Option
- Mets Outright Satin, Rice, Eveland, Carlyle
- Cubs Hire Joe Maddon As Manager
- Yankees To Extend Qualifying Offer To David Robertson
- Rangers Decline Rios’ Option; Outright Adcock, Lucas, Figaro
- Brewers Exercise Mutual Option On Aramis Ramirez
- Rays Exercise Ben Zobrist’s Option
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Alexei Ramirez Rumors
The Pirates own the second-best record in all of baseball but find themselves in second place in their own division thanks to the Cardinals. Seeking to bolster their lineup for the season's second half, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that GM Neal Huntington has his sights set on Alex Rios and may be interested in Alexei Ramirez as well.
Pirates right fielders have combined to hit .235/.309/.394 this season and played below replacement level as a whole, according to Fangraphs, thanks to poor defense and baserunning. Rios would obviously serve as a massive upgrade for the final two and a half months, as he's hitting .270/.326/.429 with strong defense and baserunning. However, as Heyman notes, the $18MM that he is guaranteed through next season is steep for the Pirates, who opened the season with a payroll just under $67MM.
Ramirez is also costly, as he's owed $23MM through the 2015 season. He's hitting .286/.311/.358 with 20 stolen bases, and advanced metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating love his range at shortstop. Jordy Mercer took over as Pittsburgh's starting shortstop recently, but he's hitting just .188/.246/.188 over his past 18 games and doesn't have much of a track record.
To this point, the White Sox have been "extremely disappointed" in the offers they've received for Rios, but the Pirates have a deep farm system that ranked seventh in baseball prior to the season, according to Baseball America. It stands to reason that the Pirates could put together an enticing offer, especially if White Sox GM Rick Hahn agrees to include cash to help facilitate a deal. The Buccos are not one of the six teams on Rios' no-trade list.
We heard last week that the White Sox had begun to receive calls on their veteran players. Now, rival executives tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the ChiSox are "open for business" and willing to discuss anyone on their roster with the exception of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
That means that even John Danks, who just last year signed a five-year, $65MM extension with the Sox, could be had in the right deal. The team also has desirable trade chips like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton and Jake Peavy (though he's currently on the DL). Heyman also adds that Jeff Keppinger's name has already come up in conversations, despite the fact that he signed a three-year deal just this past offseason.
Not surprisingly, one executive told Heyman that Adam Dunn will be difficult to move. Dunn is owed $15MM in 2014 and is hitting .194/.303/.460 this season. Another said that Peavy will be tough to find a match for as well. The White Sox will have a high asking price on their co-ace, but teams won't have much time to determine if he's truly healthy.
Another executive told Heyman that the Mets could look at Ramirez as a potential long-term option at shortstop. While he's not hitting for power anymore, Ramirez is batting .280/.308/.345 with 18 stolen bases and outstanding defense, according to advanced metrics like UZR and DRS. He's owed $10MM in 2014 and has a $10MM club option for 2015 on his contract as well.
We learned earlier today that the Cubs are "open for business" and ready to sell, and it sounds like Chicago's other team may not be far behind. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke with White Sox GM Rick Hahn recently, who confirmed that other teams have begun to express interest in his players:
"We are getting phone calls, and they will probably become a little bit more voluminous if we don't turn it around pretty quickly," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said.
Heyman's sources indicate that Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez will at least be discussed, with one rival general manager telling him that Rios will draw more interest. Rios,32, is owed $12.5MM in 2014, the final guaranteed year of his contract, though his deal contains a club option as well. Ramirez, 31, is controlled through 2015 and owed $9.5MM in 2014, $10MM in 2015 and has a $1MM buyout on his $10MM club option for 2016.
Heyman also speculates that names such as Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom and perhaps even Gordon Beckham will become available if the White Sox do indeed take the position of sellers this July. Crain, of course, is on a historic run, having fired 28 shutout innings over his past 28 appearances with a 37-to-7 K/BB ratio in that time.
3:01pm: The White Sox have talked about Kubel and also had talks about Upton earlier in winter, when Diamondbacks asked about Alexei Ramirez, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
2:56pm: The Rangers are not pursuing Kubel at present, a source tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter).
The Diamondbacks are looking to trade an outfielder in the wake of the Cody Ross signing, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Jason Kubel is regarded as the outfielder most likely to be moved.
Arizona is still overloaded with outfielders following the Chris Young trade as Ross joins Kubel, Justin Upton, and Gerardo Parra. The club also has prospects Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock waiting in the wings, giving them a rich surplus that can be parlayed into other areas of need.
Some have wondered if the Rangers could be players for Kubel if they can’t come to terms on a long-rumored deal for Upton. Kubel is set to earn $7.5MM in 2013 with a mutual option for the same amount in 2014, significantly less than the $38.5MM owed to Upton through ’15.
The White Sox have many appealing trade chips, including Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd, so GM Kenny Williams will likely be fielding all kinds of inquiries in Dallas at next week's Winter Meetings. Here's the latest on the White Sox…
- The White Sox haven’t offered John Danks a long-term deal recently, according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com. The White Sox were rebuffed not too long ago and are now more likely to trade the left-hander, according to Padilla. However, the team hasn’t given up on working out a new contract with Danks.
- Teams have asked the White Sox about Chris Sale and Alexei Ramirez, but the price for either player would be "sky-high," according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- White Sox manager Robin Ventura told reporters, including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, that he's like to get 30 starts out of both Danks and Floyd while playing Quentin in right field on a regular basis (Twitter link). However, the new manager realizes it may not work out that way in 2012.
Alexei Ramirez's new extension could keep him in Chicago through his age-34 season and the 29-year-old Cuban says he may want to stay in the Windy City longer than that. Ramirez now feels comfortable with the White Sox and with life in Chicago, so he hopes to stay for the rest of his career.
"When I first got here, I felt like I was at home," Ramirez said through interpreter Lou Hernandez on a conference call with reporters yesterday. "I felt like I was in Cuba."
Chicago doesn't resemble Cuba in April or May, but Ramirez says people in the White Sox organization help him feel at ease. Manager Ozzie Guillen helped him adjust to life in the big leagues over the course of his first three seasons by showing confidence in him and sharing observations about playing shortstop in the majors.
Ramirez's double play parter, Gordon Beckham, doesn't speak Spanish and Ramirez is still learning English, but Ramirez says he has developed a rhythm with Beckham.
"Aside from not speaking the same language, we get along really well and we're getting to know each other's styles on the field," he said.
Ramirez says he has adjusted his offseason training program to include more weight training and less cardio. He knows opponents will adjust to him and he intends to follow up his Silver Slugger season with another solid campaign at the plate. Ramirez has put on muscle – he's sure of it – but ask him how much weight he's gained and he can't tell you, since he hasn't stepped on a scale this winter.
The White Sox have agreed to a four-year, $32.5MM extension with Alexei Ramirez, the team announced. The shortstop will receive $5MM in 2012, $7MM in 2013, $9.5MM in 2014 and $10MM in 2015. The club can choose between a $10MM option and a $1MM buyout for 2016. Ramirez still will earn a base salary of $2.75MM in 2011 as per the terms of his previous deal.
Ramirez is represented by Jaime Torres, who said his client would be "very willing to discuss" a multiyear extension in the wake of Chicago exercising Ramirez's 2011 option.
Ramirez, 29, hit .282/.313/.431 with 18 homers in 2010, earning his first Silver Slugger Award. The Cuban has hit 54 home runs in his three Major League seasons and showed some tremendous glovework last season, posting a +10.1 UZR/150 rating.
Jorge Ebro of the Nuevo Herald first reported the deal.
THURSDAY, 1:04pm: The White Sox exercised their $2.75MM club option on Ramirez rather than go to arbitration, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
WEDNESDAY, 10:51am: Alexei Ramirez opted out of his $1.1MM salary for 2011 and will go to arbitration with the White Sox unless the team exercises a $2.5MM option within a week, according to Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune. The shortstop had until today to decline a set $1.1MM salary for next year. The White Sox now have a week to choose between their $2.5MM option and taking the 2010 Silver Slugger winner to arbitration. MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that the White Sox have until December 15th to decide between arbitration and a $2.75MM option (Twitter link).
Ramirez batted .282/.313/.431 with 18 homers, 29 doubles and 13 steals in 626 plate appearances last year. In three big league seasons, all with the White Sox, the Cuba native has a .283/.321/.430 batting line. Ramirez, 29, would be “very willing to discuss” a multiyear extension, agent Jaime Torres told van Dyck.
Five years ago today, the Blue Jays signed closer B.J. Ryan to a five-year, $47MM deal, the largest ever for a reliever (the contract was later matched in total by Joe Nathan). Ryan gave the Jays two solid seasons, earning his release in '09. Today's links:
- White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has until Wednesday to decide whether to choose arbitration over a $1.1MM salary for 2011, reports Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Even as a first timer Ramirez would certainly beat that, so look for him to choose arbitration unless a multiyear deal can be hammered out. The Sox have four other arbitration eligible players: John Danks, Carlos Quentin, Tony Pena, and Bobby Jenks.
- Carl Crawford's agents at Legacy Sports are sending interested teams iPads with pro-Crawford videos preloaded, reports Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
- Versatile free agent Bill Hall is in play for eight teams, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. The Rockies are one interested club, tweets Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. The Yankees may be another, based on a Ken Rosenthal report from earlier this month. Renck believes the Rockies will have interest in Ryan Theriot if he's non-tendered, as well.
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka sounds eager to sign with the Twins, based on press conference quotes passed along by Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Scott Boras has a proposal to replace the Rule 5 draft, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides the details. Also, Rosenthal previews the rest of the offseason.
Links in Spanish, because English is so last season…
- Jose Julio Ruiz's new agent Mike Maulini tells Jorge Ebro at Nuevo Herald that the Cuban first baseman made the switch from Jorge Luis Toca after realizing that his much-rumored signing with a major league team was "long overdue." Ruiz had a $2MM offer in hand from Tampa Bay in February, but since then, the market has stagnated and the lefty feared he was in danger of missing his opportunity to play stateside.
- While Haitian baseball prospects exist, don't expect to see any of them signing with Major League teams, writes Juan Mercado in the Dominican newspaper El Dia. He talks with two coaches who complain that the MLB office on the island won't allow promising Haitian players to attend teams' academies because of the difficulty in verifying the players' backgrounds and paperwork. One source tells Mercado that the teams simply "prefer not to waste time" in fruitless investigations, while the two coaches call the policy discriminatory, saying many Cuban and Venezuelan players don't receive the same level of scrutiny. The only current Major Leaguer of Haitian descent is the Orioles' Felix Pie, though he was born in the Dominican.
- Several veteran players were signed during this offseason under the justification of mentoring developing players. But lost in the circle-of-life storyline is the idea that those veterans are being paid for their blunt critical eye. New White Sox backup shortstop Omar Vizquel brings the point home to Luis Rangel of Nuevo Herald when he says that mentee Alexei Ramirez "needs to move his feet when fielding. He has the tendency to stand still and not move to the ball." Ramirez committed 20 errors in his first full season at short, tying for fourth most among major league shortstops.
- Who says winter leagues help keep players in shape for the regular season? Yankees reliever Jonathan Albaladejo tells Esteban Pagan Rivera at Primera Hora that he shed 30 pounds this offseason after the team forbade him from playing in his home country of Puerto Rico. At the other end of the scale sits Pablo Sandoval, whose much-ballyhooed "Camp Panda" proved for naught when he came back from the Venezuelan Winter League in January heavier than when he arrived.
- The Twins signed one of Sandoval's fellow Navegantes of Magallanes in Venezuela, righty reliever Yoslan Herrera, to a minor league deal, confirms Joe Christensen at the Star Tribune. Herrera, who defected from Cuba in 2005, was a highly touted prospect in the Pirates system but disappointed in his only brief showing with the team in 2008. He showed more promise at the Bucs' Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2009 and will start out at Triple-A Rochester for the Twins. The Cuban blog Terreno de Pelota first reported the signing on Tuesday.