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Hanley Ramirez Rumors
As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.
- Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
- Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
- Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
- The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
- Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.
The Yankees are set to bring up second base prospect Jose Pirela, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be sorted in the middle infield, but the club has received scant production to date at both second base (Stephen Drew and Gregorio Petit) and shortstop (Didi Gregorius). With the Yankees otherwise looking good atop the AL East, it is fair to wonder whether Pirela and/or Rob Refsnyder will get extended early looks to help inform the club’s decisionmaking over the summer.
Here’s more from the competitive AL East:
- Meanwhile, things are headed in quite a different direction at the keystone for the Blue Jays, who have received stunning production from offseason acquisition Devon Travis. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca explains, while Travis’s incredible start is obviously not sustainable, he has exhibited a series of skills — hitting the ball long and hard, and showing quality strike zone control — that bode well for his future. While Toronto obviously hoped he could become a long-term answer when it dealt for him, the club now has good reason to believe that he will be installed at second for years to come.
- Another infielder off to a surprisingly hot start is Jimmy Paredes of the Orioles. As Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes, the 26-year-old has traveled a long road through five organizations to get to this point. Still a work in progress in the field, Paredes has shown real promise at the plate this year. With Jonathan Schoop still working back from injury and Manny Machado having missed significant time in each of the last two seasons, Paredes could be an important piece for Baltimore if the team hopes to stay in the playoff hunt.
- Things have gotten bad in a hurry for the Red Sox, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford opines that losing Hanley Ramirez for any significant stretch would be a huge blow for Boston; while his injury does not appear to be as serious as it looked, any loss of production could be problematic in a tough division. Of course, the club has plenty of options in the outfield, and the bigger concern remains a rotation that has struggled badly. Though it is reasonable to hope that the results will begin to better match the underlying peripherals, Bradford says that the team does not have any obviously promising internal candidates to add quality innings in the near term.
9:40pm: The club has received promising initial indications on Ramirez’s shoulder, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports on Twitter. Manager John Farrell called Ramirez “day to day,” saying that it is not yet clear that he’ll need a DL stint.
8:24pm: Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez suffered what the team is calling a sprained left shoulder during tonight’s action. He crashed into the left field wall attempting to make a catch down the line.
It is obviously far too soon to know how severe the injury is, but the somewhat innocuous terminology (“sprain”) could potentially belie its seriousness. Shoulder sprains come in different grades, of course. And Ramirez has already undergone two procedures on his left shoulder.
The 31-year-old has hit a robust .283/.340/.609 over 103 plate appearances this year, providing the middle-of-the-order presence that Boston hoped for. While his poorly-rated work in his first season as an outfielder has held down his value, the club will certainly miss his bat for whatever time he misses.
Of course, the Red Sox are particularly loaded in the outfield, even with Shane Victorino already on the DL. Allen Craig and Daniel Nava are already on the big league roster, while Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. are patrolling the outfield at Triple-A Pawtucket. Then again, the Red Sox promised Ramirez $88MM over four years in hopes that he would help anchor a potent lineup, and every game counts in a tight division.
If the injury keeps Ramirez down for a significant stretch, the biggest impact, in the end, could be on Boston’s flexibility to deal over the summer. Outfield depth seemed among the more likely places from which the club could draw in adding pieces to its rotation, which has struggled to a 5.66 ERA.
Though Bernie Williams hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2006, the longtime Yankees outfielder won’t officially hang up his glove until Friday, when he’ll sign his retirement papers prior to the Mets/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes that Williams is also scheduled to have his #51 retired by the Yankees later this season and be honored with a plaque in Monument Park. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, the team announced. Navarro has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate since the Jays signed Russell Martin, and Navarro has himself said that he’d prefer an everyday role elsewhere, though he’s committed to the Jays. The veteran has received semi-regular playing time this season as Mark Buehrle‘s personal catcher and part-time DH duty.
- With Alex Rodriguez closing in on his 660th career home run and the $6MM contract bonus associated with tying Willie Mays’ mark, Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post look at how the impending dispute between A-Rod and the Yankees will play out. It’s possible the arbitration hearing to decide the matter wouldn’t take place until the offseason, Davidoff/Sherman write, as “there is no reason to speed this case along, especially because neither the Yankees nor A-Rod seem anxious to mess with the positive vibe around the controversial slugger.”
- Outfielder Ramon Flores enjoyed a big Spring Training and he’s tearing up Triple-A pitching, yet as Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog writes, the Yankees don’t currently have a spot for him at the Major League level. New York would have to trade someone to create even a bench spot for Flores, and dealing Flores himself might not net a big return since he has no MLB experience.
- Hanley Ramirez has looked defensively shaky in his new left field role, yet Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he doesn’t plan on removing Ramirez for a better fielder in late-game situations. “I want to show him the confidence to bring him along….I think the benefit of not taking him out far outweighs, at least at this point and time, taking him out because of his continued growth and us showing faith in him in left field,” Farrell said. Needless to say, the Sox have a lot invested in Ramirez’s development as a left fielder since (at least for this season) they have nowhere else in the field to play him; Pablo Sandoval (3B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), David Ortiz (DH) and Mike Napoli (1B) are locked in at other possible positions.
Drew Smyly has been slowed by shoulder tendinitis this spring and may not be ready for the start of the regular season, but Rays manager Kevin Cash isn’t about to panic, Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune writes. Meanwhile, Nathan Karns, Burch Smith and Matt Andriese, who began camp competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, could be pitching for a second spot, if Smyly isn’t ready.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette sent his best starting pitching prospect, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, to the Red Sox in order to land Andrew Miller last season. If he had his druthers, that’s not neccessarily the deal he would have made, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. “I offered about 50 other pitchers before him,” said Duquette. “It was required that we give up Rodriguez for Andrew Miller. We had to take a shot.” O’s manager Buck Showalter thought the deal was worth it for both teams, but Silverman wonders if Rodriguez could prove to be the next great ace in Boston.
- CC Sabathia threw live batting practice this morning and remains on track in his recovery from right knee surgery, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “I haven’t had a setback and I’ve been feeling so good,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been able to participate in every drill and haven’t had where I’ve needed a day [off]. I feel good about how we’re going and the pace that we’re moving at.” The Yankees left-hander could make his Grapefruit League debut next week, if an upcoming two-inning simulated game goes well.
- The Red Sox‘s decision to play Hanley Ramirez in left field is the biggest gamble a team is taking on a position switch, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The AL East is wide open for the taking by any of the five teams, not because of its strength but because of its mediocrity, opines CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam. “I never thought I’d say this,” one talent evaluator told McAdam, “but you could make the case that the AL East is the thinnest division in the game.“
8:05pm: Ramirez’s option will vest if he reaches 1050 plate appearances from 2017-18 and does not finish the 2018 season on the disabled list, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (Twitter link).
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds (Twitter links) that Ramirez receives a limited no-trade clause in the deal. He will receive $50K bonuses for each All-Star nod, Silver Slugger award and Gold Glove he earns. He can also receive up to $150K each year based on MVP voting and additional bonuses for postseason awards.
5:29pm: On Nov. 24, 2005, the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins in a blockbuster deal, but nine years and a day later, the team has officially announced that Ramirez will return to Boston on a four-year deal.
Ramirez, a client of the Wasserman Media Group’s Adam Katz, will reportedly earn $88MM over those four years, and his contract contains a $22MM vesting option for a fifth year. The contract calls for a $3MM signing bonus, a $19MM salary in 2015 and a $22MM salary from 2016-18.
Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 homers for the Dodgers last season and owns a .300/.373/.500 slash line for his career, was cited by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes as the top position player available in free agency, though it was “unclear” as to how Ramirez’s market would develop. While Ramirez’s impact bat was clearly a huge asset in an offense-thin free agent market, he has a notable injury history and is a below-average defensive shortstop, posting negative Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 totals in seven of his nine full-time seasons. In order to help his free agent case, Ramirez said he was open to switching positions, though his signing with the Sox opens up a number of possibilities on that front.
The Red Sox announced Ramirez as a left fielder, which should put to rest any questions about his role with the team. Fellow free agent signee Pablo Sandoval will be penciled in as the everyday third baseman, and the promising Xander Bogaerts will look to improve in his second full season in the league. Ramirez will join Boston’s very crowded outfield mix of Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava. Cespedes’ name has been mentioned in trade rumors, so he seems like the most probable candidate to be playing elsewhere in 2015, but the Sox seem very likely to move multiple outfielders this winter.
It’s clear that the Red Sox are looking to amass as many top bats as possible in the increasingly pitching-dominated league. The Sox have been hesitant about signing free agents to long contracts given how several of their recent major signings (i.e. Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Adrian Gonzalez) provided limited returns. On paper, Ramirez doesn’t fit the model of the safe signing that Boston would prefer given his age (he’ll be 31 on Opening Day), injury history and defensive issues, though given how little payroll space the Sox have tied up in future commitments, the club had plenty of flexibility.
Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars. The qualifying offer and the questions about Ramirez’s defense could have played a role, or it could be that Ramirez was simply willing to take less money to play for the organization that originally signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000. Ramirez developed into one of the game’s top prospects while in the Sox farm system and he played his first two Major League games with the team in 2005. He was dealt that November to the Marlins as part of the trade package that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.
The Dodgers will earn a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as a result of the signing, as Ramirez turned down the team’s qualifying offer. Boston’s 2015 first-round pick is protected, so the Sox have surrendered both their second- and third-round picks in order to bring Sandoval and Ramirez aboard.
Christopher Meola first reported that Ramirez would sign with Boston (Twitter link), and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the terms of the deal. The year-to-year breakdown was first reported by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The action today was in the AL East, with the Red Sox reportedly reaching terms with both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The day’s moves could well set up a series of others in a division that is setting the early pace in spending. Here’s the latest:
- With the Red Sox taking on gobs of new salary obligations and seemingly prepared to add more, attention has naturally turned to the question of how much the team could be willing to spend. Owner John Henry mentioned last year that going over the luxury tax line is not necessarily a devastating event, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston has relatively little committed in the future, but is already well north of $100MM in obligations for 2015 even before accounting for Sandoval and Ramirez.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier takes a closer look at the team’s possible methods for freeing salary to devote to pitching. He notes that the cap may not be a hard ceiling for the Sox, though the roster will need to be trimmed regardless of financial considerations. Speier’s colleague, Rob Bradford, evaluates the expected addition of Ramirez in terms of the many moving parts that the organization must account for.
- Boston’s moves will test the Yankees‘ restraint, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. New York is still putting out the vibe that it will not play in the top of the free agent market, but the temptation is obvious. As Sherman rightly notes, also, the bidding for return targets like Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy, and David Robertson could well shoot up rather quickly.
- Sources also tell Sherman that the Bombers are pushing harder to acquire a shortstop than a third baseman. The club has made “a series of trade offers” to land one, per Sherman.
- The Blue Jays are “talking about” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the report is not entirely clear, it seems to refer to internal discussion among the Toronto brass, rather than trade chatter between the clubs. While a recent report indicated that Cincinnati would listen on Bruce, it is difficult to imagine a trade scenario that would entice the Reds and a team looking to add the talented 27-year-old at a discount.
MONDAY: Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that the five-year, $90MM figure which has been reported is inaccurate (Twitter link).
SUNDAY: Hanley Ramirez will go to Boston on Monday to finalize a deal with the Red Sox in the five-year, $90MM range, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Reports emerged this afternoon indicating that the Red Sox were in hot pursuit of Ramirez.
As Rosenthal wrote earlier today, the Red Sox’ endgame with Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval is unclear. It’s possible they want Ramirez to play shortstop, but they already have Xander Bogaerts, who has upside and is a far superior defender. If they want Ramirez to play third, it’s unclear what will come of their outstanding offer to Sandoval (which reportedly was for a similar total of five years and $95MM). They could also try Ramirez at outfield, although he has limited experience there, and the Red Sox have plenty of outfielders. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox are still trying to sign both players.
As the previous paragraph suggests, however, there are big questions about Ramirez’s defense, particularly at shortstop. He has also had trouble staying healthy in the past several seasons. Still, Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 for the Dodgers last season and is .300/.373/.500 for his career, clearly has an impact bat, and that’s a huge asset, particularly in an offense-thin free agent market. Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars. It could be possible Ramirez is willing to take less money to play for the Red Sox, the organization that signed and developed him before trading him to the Marlins in 2005.
Ramirez rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, so L.A. will add a pick at the end of the first round of next year’s draft if the Red Sox do complete the signing. The Red Sox’ top pick (No. 7 overall) is protected, so they would lose their second-round pick as a result of signing Ramirez.
The Red Sox are “trying hard” to sign both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. An industry source tells WEEI.com’s Alex Speier the Red Sox are in advanced conversations with Ramirez and a deal “could come together quickly” adding the potential for an agreement is real.
Heyman notes the Red Sox have remained in contact with Ramirez since the recent GM meetings in Phoenix and suggestions are those talks have grown more serious in recent days. Heyman writes it’s unclear what position Ramirez, who has also been linked to the Mariners and Astros, might play if he signs with Boston, where he started his career, but stresses the Red Sox are in play for both Ramirez and Sandoval. Speier theorizes the Red Sox would play Sandoval at third base and shift Ramirez to left field increasing the possibility of a Yoenis Cespedes trade.
The Red Sox held a second meeting with Sandoval this week, per MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes, and have a five-year, $95MM offer on the table. Yesterday, it was reported the Red Sox, Giants, and the Padres are the finalists for Sandoval’s services.
The Red Sox could make it a triple play in free agency as they are also in talks with Jon Lester. Boston has reportedly made Lester a six-year offer worth between $110-120MM. The left-hander has met with the Red Sox, Cubs, and Braves this past week and will meet with two more teams this week and has been linked to the Cardinals, as well.
Free agent lefty Francisco Liriano, most recently of the Pirates, is looking to land a three or four-year deal with a $12MM+ average annual value, according to a report from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter). That seems like a plenty reasonable starting point given Liriano’s excellent numbers over the past two seasons. While draft compensation will no doubt play a role in his free agency, MLBTR’s Steve Adams still predicts that he will land $40MM over three years.
Here are some notes out of the National League:
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak is “increasingly aggressive and unpredictable,” says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That lends some credence to the notion that St. Louis could pursue a top free agent starter, says Miklasz, who documents the reasons that adding Jon Lester or even Max Scherzer could make sense. In the final analysis, though, the veteran sportswriter says he would still be shocked if the team beats the market for an ace.
- Not only senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson but also GM Dave Stewart have been making the rounds internationally, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, who notes that the Diamondbacks are hoping to “make waves” in the international market. On the domestic front, Didi Gregorius is drawing the most interest on the trade market among the team’s middle infielders, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
- The Padres appear to be leaning toward keeping starters Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. San Diego can and should avoid marking down the price on that pair, in my view, as it ought to provide a cheap source of solid rotation production over the next several years.
- Even if the Dodgers are not internally discussing a deal to bring back Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, as was recently reported, that does not mean that the club is closing the door completely to a reunion, per a tweet from Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.