Hanley Ramirez Rumors

Olney On Qualifying Offer Candidates

In his latest Insider-only blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney runs down a list of pending free agents that are candidates to receive qualifying offers. Olney spoke with several executives from around the league and is of the mind that James Shields, Max Scherzer, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Russell Martin, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Victor Martinez, Ervin Santana, David Robertson and Hanley Ramirez will receive qualifying offers, which should fall between $15MM and $15.5MM.

Here are a few more notes from Olney’s piece…

  • The Giants intend to give Sandoval a QO with the assumption that he will reject the offer and test the open market. San Francisco appears willing to offer him just three years, says Olney, and even going to four years might be too much of a stretch. Such a commitment seems much too light to land Sandoval, who, at 28 years old, will be one of the youngest free agents on the market.
  • It looks like the Dodgers and Ramirez could be moving in separate directions, as rival evaluators anticipate the team will extend a qualifying offer with the expectation that Ramirez signs elsewhere.
  • The value of Martin on a one-year deal, even north of $15MM, makes a QO for the Pirates “an easy call,” one rival GM said to Olney. Some may wonder whether or not Francisco Liriano is a QO candidate, but executives polled by Olney feel that his injury history and lack of innings present too much risk for the Bucs to extend such an offer. I’m inclined to agree; while Martin is a lock to turn down the QO, Liriano would have more hesitancy, and a $15MM salary would represent nearly 21 percent of the Pirates’ Opening Day payroll from 2014.
  • Some evaluators think that Cruz will again find himself with a more limited market than he expects due to his age, 2013 PED suspension and the fact that his OBP and defense are less impressive than his power totals.
  • Many rival executives feel there’s simply no way that the Tigers will let Martinez get away. Olney’s right in noting that a QO is “an easy call” for V-Mart, who currently sports a hefty .333/.401/.567 with a career-high 31 homers.
  • Olney also feels that a QO for Robertson is an easy call. While he notes that teams don’t pay $15MM for closers anymore, one evaluator said to him: “…with any other team, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But it’s the Yankees, and they can do it.” On a somewhat related note, Olney adds that Koji Uehara‘s late-season swoon may be a blessing of sorts for the Red Sox, who can now approach him with an offer much lower than a QO would have been. I noted in yesterday’s MLBTR chat that I’d be more hesitant to give Robertson a QO, but the Yankees could certainly afford to run the risk.

NL West Links: D’Backs, Lincecum, Hanley

With Tony La Russa in place and looking for a new GM for the Diamondbacks, the organization still faces fundamental questions about how it will incorporate statistical analysis into its decisionmaking, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. La Russa’s recent comments indicate that he is more interested in adding lower-level front office pieces with analytical backgrounds, notes Piecoro, which is a strategy that runs the risk of being ineffectual.

A bit more from the NL West…

  • Grant Brisbee of SB Nation’s McCovey Chronicles opines that at this point, former ace Tim Lincecum couldn’t even be trusted with a postseason roster spot for the Giants. He certainly won’t get a rotation spot, notes Brisbee, and the spot starter/long relief role will likely go to Yusmeiro Petit, with Ryan Vogelsong rounding out the rotation. Even in a middle relief role, Hunter Strickland‘s overpowering fastball (which has averaged 98 mph this month) could be more valuable than what Lincecum could bring.
  • Hanley Ramirez does not seem to be handling the final stretch leading up to his free agency very smoothly, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Ramirez refused to talk to reporters following a two-error game Tuesday, and even on Monday, he turned away reporters from the Dodgers‘ own regional sports network. Manager Don Mattingly implied that he thinks Ramirez might be burned out from answering the types of questions associated with his current situation, as he’s never been this close to free agency before and hasn’t dealt with the situation in the past.

NL West Notes: Hanley, Kemp, Ross, Rosario

It was on this day in 1890 that the Dodgers (then playing in Brooklyn and using the rather non-intimidating “Bridegrooms” nickname) swept a triple-header over the Pirates.  This was one of the season’s many highlights for the Dod..er, Bridegrooms as they went on to win the franchise’s first National League pennant.

Here’s some news from around the NL West…

  • If Hanley Ramirez leaves the Dodgers in free agency, it could be for an American League team that could give him the occasional rest day at DH, Peter Gammons writes.  Ramirez could also go to a team in need of third base help if he’s willing to switch positions.  As recently reported, the Dodgers are wary of giving Ramirez a long-term contract due to concerns about his durability and defense.
  • Ramirez’s departure would also make it very unlikely that the Dodgers would trade Matt Kemp, Gammons adds.  Without Ramirez, the Dodgers will need Kemp to help balance a lineup that would have only one other notable right-handed bat in Yasiel Puig.
  • Cody Ross knows he’ll be fighting for playing time with the Diamondbacks next season, but the veteran outfielder tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he plans to be fully recovered from the career-threatening hip fracture he suffered in August 2013.
  • The Rockies could use an upgrade at catcher next season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines.  Wilin Rosario has struggled with injuries and performance this season, plus his defense is still a work in progress; Saunders thinks that Rosario’s focus on his glovework may have also been a reason for his dropoff at the plate.  Rosario will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason.


Ramirez, Dodgers Won’t Negotiate Until Season’s End

Team president Stan Kasten says the Dodgers will not be discussing a new contract with free-agent-to-be Hanley Ramirez until after the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. Ramirez is currently on the disabled list with an oblique injury.

Both sides have agreed we’ll sit down and talk at the end of the season and decide,” says Kasten. “As difficult a season as he’s had physically, there is still lots of time for him to have an enormous impact for us.”

Ramirez and the Dodgers discussed an extension at the beginning of the season, and Ramirez has voiced his desire to be a “Dodger for life.” Ramirez’s injuries and defensive troubles will likely be issues, however — Shaikin cites one insider who says that Ramirez might not be able to get a contract of more than two years unless he’s willing to move from shortstop to a new position. (Obviously, his .277/.367/.455 line this year will play at any position.)

The consensus among those Shaikin polled suggested Ramirez would get two to three years at about $15MM per season, a total that seems surprisingly small, but reasonable, given the question of what position he’ll play and the likelihood that the Dodgers will extend a qualifying offer.


NL Notes: Taylor, Cuddyer, Hanley, Alvarez

The Nationals will promote top prospect Michael Taylor today, a source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The 23-year-old, previously known more for his bat than his glove, has risen quickly through Double-A and Triple-A this season, hitting .315/.401/.547 with 22 homers and 35 stolen bases along the way. Outfielder Steven Souza was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder contusion to make room for Taylor. MLB.com ranked Taylor 72nd on the midseason edition of its Top 200 prospects list. Washington will have control of him through at least the 2019 season if he is in the Majors to stay.

Here are some more Sunday morning links from around the senior circuit…

  • Michael Cuddyer is focused on getting healthy rather than proving himself to potential free agent suitors or to the Rockies in the season’s final weeks, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The 35-year-old, who is finishing up a three-year, $31.5MM contract, has been out since April with a broken bone in his left shoulder. Cuddyer elected to rehab at the lower levels of the minor leagues to strengthen his legs and to once again experience the camaraderie of that environment, he explains. His decision has not been taken for granted by the young players he’s encountered thus far, as Rockies 2014 first-rounder Forrest Wall has already picked Cuddyer’s brain about preparation for games and his approach at the plate. The Rockies would like to retain Cuddyer, though they aren’t sure at what price they’d be comfortable, Groke notes.
  • The Dodgers seem resigned to the fact that Hanley Ramirez will be placed on the disabled list with an oblique injury, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Ramirez has been determined to stay off the DL in his contract year, says Gurnick, but he’s still missed 25 starts with various injuries to this point. Ramirez ranked third on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, with his lack of durability being a primary reason for his fall from the top spot. A stint on the DL — which would be his fifth since the onset of the 2011 season — certainly won’t help his free agent stock.
  • Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke to Pedro Alvarez and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle about the possibility of Alvarez moving across the diamond to first base. Alvarez, whom Hurdle recently said had lost his starting job at third base, is open to the idea and called it a “no-brainer” rather than offer any negative comments about the move. It’d present the Bucs with an interesting logjam at first, however, as Alvarez ($4.25MM), Ike Davis ($3.5MM) and Gaby Sanchez ($2.3MM) are all due raises on their 2014 salaries via arbitration this winter. Price notes that Sanchez has begun working out over at third base.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Zobrist, Price, Hanley, Dodgers, Martinez

In the video atop his latest Notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal states that he feels this will finally be the year that the Rays deal David Price, as they can receive max value for him by dealing their ace to a team that can use him for two playoff pushes. He also adds that he expects the Rays to move Ben Zobrist, even though his price tag is affordable, simply because the demand for Zobrist will be so high.

Here are some more highlights from his column…

  • Hanley Ramirez‘s poor glove is perhaps the main reason that he and the Dodgers have yet to agree to an extension, Rosenthal writes. He wonders how much that flaw will impact Ramirez’s value on the open market at a time when teams are placing a higher premium than ever before on defense. He adds that if Ramirez does stay in L.A. and shift to third base in the long-term on his next contract, the team may have to trade Juan Uribe and his $6.5MM 2015 salary.
  • Looking at other Dodgers issues, Rosenthal writes that many executives around the league expect that it will ultimately be Matt Kemp who is traded to clear the team’s outfield logjam, though it likely won’t happen until the offseason. He adds that the Dodgers are likely to be in the market for a starting pitcher after the news that Chad Billingsley is out for the season, as Josh Beckett and Dan Haren are tough to rely on down the stretch.
  • Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez completely revamped his swing mechanics this offseason before he was released by the Astros in Spring Training. He signed a minor league deal with Detroit two days later and found himself teammates with the man whose mechanics he spent the entire offseason studying — Miguel Cabrera. Martinez tells Rosenthal he watched video of Cabrera and Ryan Braun all winter and “re-invented” himself at the plate. It may not be sustainable, but the early results are positive; Martinez is hitting .300/.333/.570 with six homers in 108 PA with Detroit.

Dodgers, Ramirez Not Currently Discussing Extension

JUNE 3: There are currently no ongoing extension discussions between Ramirez’s representatives and the Dodgers, Ramirez tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

MAY 15: The Dodgers have been in discussions with shortstop Hanley Ramirez about a new deal for the last several weeks, but a significant gap remains, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ramirez, 30, is reportedly asking for over $130MM to give up a chance at testing the open market. Heyman says that the sides are far enough apart that finding a compromise — if it proves possible – is expected to take some time.

At that price, it seems that Ramirez would at least be looking to crack the $25MM level in average annual value over a six-year term. As Heyman notes, that seems to be a fairly reasonable starting point in light of the seven-year deals handed out to players like Jacoby Ellsbury ($153MM) and Shin-Soo Choo ($130MM) during the latest round of free agency.

Indeed, injuries aside, Ramirez’s career numbers look rather similar to those of Robinson Cano, who landed $240MM over ten seasons. Both established themselves in 2006 and have compiled just over 37 fWAR since. While Cano was more consistently excellent over recent years, and was surely a safer investment for such a lengthy deal, Ramirez arguably delivers more upside, especially since he plays short. And Ramirez will be a bit younger when he reaches the open market.

While a deal approaching Cano proportions seems out of reach barring an unbelievable rest of the year, Ramirez figures to be able to drive up quite a bidding war, especially if he can bump up his current 116 OPS+ a few ticks. That is especially so because, unlike the situation in last year’s market, Ramirez faces no real competition as the only truly premium position player set to reach free agency. As MLBTR’s first iteration of this year’s free agent power rankings reflect, players like Chase Headley, Colby Rasmus, Pablo Sandoval, and fellow shortstop J.J. Hardy are next in line among non-pitchers. Capable of playing both short and third, Ramirez could be courted by large-market clubs like the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, and Angels.

Of course, Ramirez’s injury history limits his contractual upside. And while some players seem to increase their demands as free agency approaches — Cano and Max Scherzer appearing to be notable recent examples — signing a mid-season extension cuts off any remaining risk of injury or performance decline.

Los Angeles is not currently willing to meet Ramirez’s current asking price, says Heyman, with his track record of injuries potentially limiting the number of years that the Dodgers wish to guarantee. Of course, Ellsbury managed to land his monster deal in spite of his own potentially concerning list of maladies, and Ramirez could be a better candidate to maintain value as he ages since his game is less dependent upon speed and he could always shift over to third. Regardless of what price the Dodgers might ultimately be willing to pay, Heyman makes clear that there is still plenty of ground for the sides to cover before a mid-point can be found.


Extension Notes: Springer, Polanco, Sandoval, Ramirez

Here are some notes on past, present, and future extension situations around the game:

  • The Astros‘ extension offer to then-unpromoted prospect George Springer actually would have guaranteed him just $7.6MM over four years, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. This news represents a correction of Rosenthal’s original report, which cited a $23MM guarantee over seven years. In fact, says, Rosenthal, the $23MM would only have been reached through the exercise of three club options, which would have covered years five through seven of the deal. While this certainly changes the nature of the cost/benefit equation that Springer faced, he would have been subject to team control through 2020 regardless — as is the case at present.
  • Likewise, Rosenthal clarifies some details of the offer made by the Pirates to fellow top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, reporting that the team’s offer would have guaranteed six or seven years in the range of $20MM to $25MM. The length and total guarantee would have shifted based upon whether or not Polanco qualified for an additional year of salary arbitration as a Super Two player. (In that respect, then, the offer looks to be quite similar to the terms agreed upon by the Rays with Chris Archer. As MLBTR reported, Archer’s $25.5MM guarantee hinges upon whether he reaches Super Two status, as expected; if he does not qualify, he would be promised just $20MM.)
  • Rosenthal also touches on the situation of free agent-to-be Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. Though talks are currently not taking place, the club is not “ruling out” making another run at an extension for the third baseman. On the other hand, Rosenthal notes that San Francisco could consider adding a different player at the hot corner through free agency or could look to piece together a platoon. Sandoval, who landed in the ninth slot in MLBTR’s first 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings, has struggled to a .191/.262/.294 start through his first 149 plate appearances in 2014.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says that he is still interested in trying to lock up another pending free agent, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Ramirez took the top spot in MLBTR’s list of the top 2015 free agents heading into the year. While he has struggled at the plate recently, Ramirez still owns a .257/.339/.447 slash with five home runs and three stolen bases through 171 plate appearances, though defensive metrics have been down on his work in the field in the early going. “He’s still somebody we’d love to have back,” said Colletti, who noted that he has conveyed that continued interest to Ramirez’s representation.

Rosenthal On Ramirez, Sandoval, Drew, Morales

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via two videos from FOX Sports:

  • The Dodgers would like Hanley Ramirez to prove he can stay healthy before signing him to an extension, Rosenthal reports. Ramirez has played in fewer than 100 games in two of the past three seasons. He can become a free agent this winter.
  • The Giants want to keep Pablo Sandoval, but would prefer to sign him to a shorter deal due to his inconsistency and weight issues. Sandoval is also off to a poor start this season, hitting .171/.250/.276 thus far.
  • It might still make sense for the Red Sox to re-sign Stephen Drew, particularly given that signing him would prevent him from signing with the Yankees. The Red Sox could move Xander Bogaerts to third base in order to clear space for Drew. The team would prefer not to do that, though, allowing him to develop at shortstop.
  • Scott Boras is trying to pique the Brewers‘ interest in Kendrys Morales, Rosenthal suggests. Whether the Brewers would have interest might depend on their perception of Morales’ defense at first base, however. Milwaukee currently has Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay splitting time at first.

NL Notes: Byrd, Towers, Ramirez

Marlon Byrd is glad the Mets gave him a chance last season, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The Mets signed Byrd to a minor-league deal, and he had an improbable age-35 breakout season that resulted in a trade to the Pirates, followed by a two-year, $16MM deal with the Phillies. “They let me go out there and play my game. They gave me a chance to make a team,” says Byrd. “Hopefully I helped them out a little bit, me and Bucky bringing Vic Black back [in the trade] — a strong arm, a closer for the future. Hopefully we helped each other out.” Here are more notes from the National League.

  • GM Kevin Towers is hopeful that the Diamondbacks will continue to back him despite the team’s poor start, Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reports (Twitter links). “I feel we have their support but I would imagine that they’re evaluating things as we’re evaluating things,” Towers says. “Hopefully we have their continued support and they are patient enough with this club to where … we turn it around.” There has been plenty of speculation about the futures of both Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. Whatever the team itself might be thinking about, though, it seems somewhat unlikely it would fire Towers just weeks before the June draft.
  • The Dodgers have announced that they’ve promoted reliever Paco Rodriguez to the big leagues and optioned infielder Carlos Triunfel to Triple-A Albuquerque. As Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times points out, the Triunfel move signals that the Dodgers are comfortable that infielder Hanley Ramirez is ready to play regularly. Ramirez had been suffering from a thumb injury.