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Hanley Ramirez Rumors
The Red Sox have reached an agreement with Hanley Ramirez, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that it’s a four-year, $88MM contract with a $22MM vesting option for a fifth season. Christopher Meola, who initially broke details of the Giancarlo Stanton signing, first reported yesterday morning that Ramirez would sign in Boston (Twitter link). Ramirez is represented by Adam Katz of the Wasserman Media Group.
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.
As of now, Ramirez projects as the everyday Red Sox third baseman, sharing the left side of the infield with shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Since the Sox are reportedly close to a deal with Pablo Sandoval, however, Ramirez could be moved into a left field role, joining 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.
The other alternative for Boston would be to install Ramirez at shortstop, Sandoval at 3B and then look to deal Bogaerts, whose star-caliber ceiling would make him a major chip in any trade. Even if Bogaerts was dealt, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to deal with Ramirez’s shortstop glove for too long — prospect Deven Marrero could eventually take over, shifting Ramirez or Sandoval to DH (the other would play third) once David Ortiz retires. Ortiz’s contract is only guaranteed for the 2015 season, though the 39-year-old slugger has a pair of team/vesting options for 2016 and 2017.
However things break down, 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 will surrender their second-rounder to sign Ramirez (or their third-rounder, should Sandoval also be signed).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
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.
There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…
- The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
- However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
- The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new notes column posted looking at a number of situations around the league. Here are some quick highlights…
- The Mariners are on the hunt for a right-handed bat, but they prefer Nelson Cruz to signing Hanley Ramirez or trading for Matt Kemp. Justin Upton is also somewhere on their wish list and is potentially available. Rosenthal writes that the Mariners “are going to do something” of significance to address that search.
- The Phillies are doing background work on the makeup of Red Sox prospects Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes, Rosenthal hears, fueling some speculation about a Cole Hamels trade. Rosenthal says the Sox are disinclined to move Vazquez or Blake Swihart, however, and previous reports have indicated that the team is loath to consider parting with Betts. As others have noted, Rosenthal feels that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to exercise his 2019 option ($20MM) in advance, bringing the total he is owed to $110MM over the next five years.
- The Padres are continuing to listen to offers for Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, with Kennedy being the most likely of the three to go. Kennedy is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM in 2015, and the Royals are interested in the right-hander. Rosenthal also speculatively lists the Rangers as a club to watch in the Kennedy market.
- A reunion between Nick Markakis and the Orioles seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal and talks are said to be merely “inching along.” Rosenthal wonders what’s taking so long but does note that the O’s are considering Yasmany Tomas and still working with Cruz as well, so it seems fair to speculate that having three options in the corner outfield is slowing the Markakis progress. As Rosenthal notes, the longer the wait, the more likely it is that Markakis explores other options more seriously.
- Since the publication of that column, Rosenthal has tweeted that the Orioles might be willing to move Bud Norris, who is projected by Swartz to earn $8.7MM in 2015. Norris is a free agent next season but pitched well in 2014, posting a 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. Rosenthal also hears that the O’s have gotten “moderate” interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although with $38.75MM remaining on his contract, I’d imagine he could only be swapped for another bad contract.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andrew Cashner | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Christian Vazquez | Cole Hamels | Hanley Ramirez | Ian Kennedy | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Matt Barnes | Matt Kemp | Mookie Betts | Nelson Cruz | Newsstand | Nick Markakis | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Tyson Ross | Ubaldo Jimenez | Yasmany Tomas
Sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links) that even though the Blue Jays have had contact with the agent for Nick Markakis, they aren’t seriously pursuing him right now. Currently, Toronto is prioritizing other outfielders ahead of Markakis.
Meanwhile, Morosi says that the Orioles are still trying to re-sign Markakis, but the two sides are not close on a deal. Last week, it was reported that there was renewed optimism between the O’s and Markakis’ camp about hammering out a new contract. That might still be the case, but it doesn’t sound like anything is imminent on that front. The two sides are said to be discussing a deal that would pay between $10-$12MM per year.
The Blue Jays are also in a similar spot with Hanley Ramirez, Morosi tweets. Toronto has established contact with the free agent shortstop, but they’re not actively pursuing him at this time. With Jose Reyes at shortstop, Ramirez, presumably, would be slotted in at third base with Brett Lawrie at second. Then again, it’s unclear how serious GM Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are about pursuing Ramirez, who figures to be among the most highly paid free agents of the offseason.
The Astros have checked in on top free agent hitter Hanley Ramirez, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal notes that with Carlos Correa, Colin Moran, and Rio Ruiz in the Astros’ pipeline for the left side of their infield, it’s unclear whether the Astros would be willing to meet Ramirez’s demands for a large contract.
In Zach Links’ profile of Ramirez for MLBTR four days ago, he projected a six-year, $132MM deal. In recent predictions, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and an anonymous GM predicted five-year deals for Ramirez worth $105MM and $90MM, respectively, while an agent went with six years and $122MM. ESPN’s Jim Bowden takes the low end at just four years and $76MM. Clearly, there’s a wide range on Ramirez’s next contract.
Ramirez could make sense for the Astros, who project to have less than $40MM committed for 2015 even after paying their arbitration eligible players. Correa, Moran, and Ruiz have a 2016 estimated time of arrival, but not all prospects pan out on a schedule, and Ramirez recently expressed a willingness to play “wherever there’s a need,” according to Heyman. The Astros’ first-round draft pick is protected, so they would have to forfeit the competitive balance round pick they acquired from the Marlins in the summer trade that netted them Moran if they were to sign Ramirez.
Could Jon Lester end up back with the Red Sox after all? “A well-connected baseball executive who has had conversations on the subject with the Red Sox” predicted to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that Lester would indeed re-sign with his old team. The exec thought the Sox could be willing to relax their policy against signing pitchers in their 30’s to long-term contracts by offering Lester a six-year deal worth at least $20MM per season. Unless Lester is still willing to give the Sox a bit of a discount, I would think it’ll take a lot more than six years/$120MM to outbid the field for Lester’s services — MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted Lester would receive, at minimum, a six-year, $147MM contract this winter. If the Red Sox were willing to give Lester a six/$120MM deal, I would think they would’ve just offered him that deal in extension talks last winter and avoided this entire situation.
Here’s some more from Fenway Park….
- The Red Sox have made calls about right-hander Justin Masterson and reliever Luke Gregerson, Edes reports in a separate item.
- Hanley Ramirez‘s apparent willingness to play third base or even left field has gotten him on the Red Sox radar, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman linked Ramirez to the Sox a few days ago, though both he and Rosenthal note that Pablo Sandoval is Boston’s first choice to play third base.
- The Red Sox haven’t yet called about Ervin Santana but they spent “the whole year” scouting him, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets.
- Even before the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer, New York still didn’t have any interest in trading for Yoenis Cespedes, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports.
Could a clause regarding Pablo Sandoval‘s conditioning be written into his next contract? ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick addressed the question, noting that a Sandoval contract could include bonuses rewarding him for staying at or under a certain weight. Similar clauses have existed in other players’ contracts in the past, though the CBA doesn’t allow a team to reduce salary (or halt it altogether) if a player is over a set weight limit.
Here’s some more from around the National League West…
- The Dodgers haven’t been having any internal discussion about bringing back Hanley Ramirez on a new multiyear deal, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team is looking at shortstops in free agency and the trade market, and the Dodgers aren’t necessarily looking at short-term players to fill the position until prospect Corey Seager is ready. “The limited supply at the position makes it hard to put a lot of rules on it,” Friedman said. “We’re going to try to acquire the best player we can and, if we wind up having depth there, that’s a good problem to have.” As Saxon notes, Seager could eventually end up as a third baseman.
- The Diamondbacks probably aren’t the ones “moving closer” to acquiring Jeremy Hellickson if the Rays are indeed approaching a trade with an NL team, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.
- Both Carlos Quentin and the Padres seem to “recognize what would be in their mutual interest” in regards to a trade, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. A deal to an AL team would allow Quentin to rest his knees in a DH role, while the Padres can get at least a bit of Quentin’s $8MM salary for 2015 off their books. While Quentin is probably open to waiving his no-trade clause, the greater question will be if a trade partner can be found given Quentin’s injury history. Padres GM A.J. Preller recently said that the club wasn’t looking to move offensive players until some new bats were acquired, so releasing Quentin isn’t yet an option.