Hanley Ramirez Rumors

Dodgers, Ramirez Remain In Early Stages Of Extension Talks

The Dodgers locked up Clayton Kershaw with a historic seven-year contract extension last week, guaranteeing the game's best pitcher an annual salary of at least $30MM for the next five seasons and possibly as much as $215MM over seven years. That pact crosses one major extension candidate off GM Ned Colletti's list, but Hanley Ramirez still has just one year left on his deal. According to Yahoo's Tim Brown, the Dodgers and Ramirez remain in the "early stages" of extension discussions, but talks are ongoing (Twitter link).

Apparently, not much has changed on the Ramirez front since late November, when talks were then said to be ongoing as well. Clearly, the Dodgers have had their fair share of business to attend to, as since that time they've extended Kershaw, aggressively pursued Masahiro Tanaka and signed five free agents to Major League deals. As shown in MLBTR's Transactions Tracker, Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Chris Perez, Jamey Wright and Juan Uribe have all been signed in that time, and the club also worked out a trade with the Mets for their Rule 5 Draft selection.

Presumably, their courtship of Tanaka is the top priority in the coming week, given the fact that the highly touted right-hander's deadline to sign is this Friday. Adding Tanaka to the mix would seem to be the final piece to a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu and Dan Haren, leaving a Ramirez extension as one of the last remaining keys to the offseason. Of course, landing Tanaka could lead to further trade discussions for Colletti in regards to Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett (my own speculation). Bronson Arroyo is reportedly on their short list of targets, should Tanaka not agree to don Dodger blue for the next several years.

Regardless, a great deal of the Dodgers' work appears to be done for the winter, which would leave Colletti and his staff with roughly two months to work out an extension for Ramirez prior to Opening Day 2014.

Colletti On Tanaka, Guerrero, Kershaw, Hanley

Earlier today, Dodgers general manager spoke with the Los Angeles media. In addition to confirming manager Don Mattingly's three-year extension, Colletti offered some insight into a number of Dodgers issues…

  • Colletti confirmed to reporters that the Dodgers have spoken with Masahiro Tanaka's agent, Casey Close recently, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. For the time being, Tanaka is in the "feeling out process," Colletti added (Hernandez tweeting).
  • Offseason pickup Alexander Guerrero is the favorite to start at second base while Dee Gordon and Miguel Rojas should also be in the mix, according to Colletti (via Hernandez). It's not a huge surprise to hear that Guerrero is the frontrunner for the job after inking a four-year, $28MM deal that can reach $32MM with incentives. However, the Dodgers still would like to add another utility infielder, Colletti added (via MLB.com's Ken Gurnick on Twitter).
  • Colletti indicated that he's had "a lot of conversations" with Clayton Kershaw on a new contract (Hernandez reporting). He's also checked in with Hanley Ramirez's reps on a new deal (also via Hernandez).
  • Colletti also provided a number of health updates on his injured players. Josh Beckett is expected to be ready by the time Spring Training begins (Hernandez reporting), while Chad Billingsley and Scott Elbert are targeting respective June and July returns to the Majors (via Gurnick). Gurnick also relays that Matt Kemp has begun hitting and is expected to play during Spring Training.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NL West Notes: D’Backs, Tanaka, Hanley, Giants

The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka.  The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons.  The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
  • Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
  • In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer.  Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today.  As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
  • Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons.  While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.

Dodgers Discussing Extension With Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez said recently that he has had ongoing extension talks with the Dodgers, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com reports (Spanish language link). The 29-year-old is under contract for next year, but his impressive output in an injury-shortened 2013 makes him a definite extension target for Los Angeles. 

Reiterating once again that he hopes to stay with the Dodgers for the rest of his career, Ramirez said that he believes a new deal could be reached this winter. "We are negotiating something, but we are going step by step," he said (in Spanish). Ramirez declined to discuss the salary and length under consideration, but it is safe to say that the shortstop/third baseman is in line for quite a substantial contract when his current six-year, $70MM pact expires.

Last year, in 336 plate appearances, Ramirez posted an outstanding .345/.402/.638 slash, including twenty home runs and ten stolen bases. His 191 wRC+ landed just behind Miguel Cabrera among players with triple-digit plate appearances. In sum, his half-season of work was good for 5.1 fWAR, 25th among field players in all of baseball. 

West Notes: Rangers, Dodgers, Rockies, Astros

The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant related comments from a radio interview with former Rangers bench coach Jackie Moore on tension that developed between GM Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan, who will step down from his positions as club president and CEO later this month. “Nolan Ryan did not have final say in the baseball part," Moore said in describing the team's baseball operations department. However, according to Grant, Ryan "never wanted final say in all baseball operations decisions." Here's more from around baseball's western divisions as we settle in for game six of the ALCS:

  • The Dodgers face several contract-related decisions following their defeat at the hands of the Cardinals in the NLCS on Friday, including how they will handle their $1.4MM 2014 option on manager Don Mattingly, the Associated Press writes. The club will also continue to explore new contracts for Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez. ESPN's Buster Olney reported earlier this evening that the Dodgers offered Kershaw a $300MM contract this season.
  • In a similarly themed article, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports that the Dodgers' owners don't intend to spend big every season, despite recent splashes in the trade and free agent market. The club plans to shift its focus to homegrown players "sooner rather than later."
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post tweets that the Rockies' needs this winter include a veteran starter, a "big bat" and bullpen help.
  • The Astros were involved in the Jose Dariel Abreu sweepstakes as part of their plan to plug some of the many holes on their roster this winter, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports. "We're going to operate as if we have the resources we need to improve the team," GM Jeff Luhnow said. While the club's priority is improving its relief corps, the front office is also expected to look at veteran starting pitchers and an offensive performer, according to Ortiz.

Magic Johnson On Kershaw, Cano, Mattingly

Magic Johnson is getting his first taste of the baseball postseason, and the Dodgers co-owner discussed some topics with reporters (including USA Today's Bob Nightengale and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) before Game One of his team's NLDS series with the Braves.

  • Johnson gave no hint about why negotiations with Clayton Kershaw on a seven-year, $210MM extension fell apart over the summer, but Johnson was confident that a new contract would be worked out this winter.  Kershaw is currently scheduled to hit free agency after the 2014 season and his price tag could get even largest with a big October, but Johnson isn't worried: “We already know we've got to give him a lot of money. What's a few more zeroes? I'm hoping we give him a lot of money.”
  • The Dodgers' are focusing on retaining their current stars, such as Kershaw or Hanley Ramirez.  “We know we can't lose our guys,” Johnson said. “Unless something crazy happens, we won't lose them.”
  • This strategy means that the Dodgers won't be players for Robinson Cano this winter, as Johnson hinted his club to can't afford both a major Kershaw extension and a big deal for Cano.  "Though I can't talk about it, that other guy in New York is going to get paid — not by us, but he's going to get paid.” Johnson said.  "It's common sense for anybody who knows numbers. The numbers probably just don't add up."  Johnson's statements confirm past rumors about the Dodgers staying out of the Cano market.
  • Johnson likes how Don Mattingly has managed the team and the two sides will meet after the playoffs to discuss a new deal.  This is Mattingly's last year under contract with L.A., though FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that the Dodgers hold a $1.4MM option on Mattingly's services for 2014.

Dodgers Owner Interested In Extending Ramirez

Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter is '"absolutely" interested in exploring a contract extension with shortstop Hanley Ramirez over the offseason, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Ramirez is set to earn $16MM next year before reaching free agency for the 2015 season.

Walter explained that Ramirez is a "special, special player" who is "fun in the clubhouse" and "inspires other people." Indeed, he has lived up to his talent since coming to Los Angeles: Ramirez's .348/.395/.629 line over 243 plate appearances this year has been good for a 186 wRC+, second-best in all of baseball (minimum 200 plate appearances). We learned recently that Ramirez would be open to a long-term deal to stay in L.A., which Ramirez reiterated when he told Hernandez that he "want[s] to stay here forever."

Still only 29 years old, Ramirez could command a raise on his already-sizeable six-year, $70MM deal. Though his recent injury history could dampen his value somewhat, Ramirez has proven this season that he can still handle shortstop, making his bat play up that much more. The six-year, $106MM deal that brought Jose Reyes to the Marlins could provide an open-market comparable, though Ramirez will be somewhat older than was Reyes at the time of that deal.

As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk has explained, even the big-spending Dodgers will need to keep a close eye on future payroll in considering a new contract for Ramirez. Los Angeles already has at least $122MM on the books through the 2017 season, and ace Clayton Kershaw is sure to command a record salary if and when he is extended. 

Red Sox Notes: Crawford, Ramirez, Beckett, Ellsbury

One year ago, the Red Sox shocked the baseball world when they hit the reset button with their massive blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.  Today, Boston finds themselves atop of the AL East, something that very few could have predicted after they shed roughly $270MM in payroll.  Alex Speier of WEEI.com has a fascinating article today on the trade that altered the direction of the club and the possible alternatives that could have also taken place.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • One rumor prior to last year's non-waiver deadline had the Red Sox considering a swap of Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez with the Marlins.  However, such a deal never came close.  One source familiar with the talks said that Boston would done the deal straight up, but the problem was the difference in salary.  Such a move would have required the Marlins to break out the checkbook as there was $37MM+ owed to Ramirez through 2014 and a whopping $110.5MM owed to Crawford through 2017.
  • However, there were other proposed deals that had legs, particularly ones involving Josh Beckett.  According to multiple industry sources, the Rangers and Red Sox explored a number of possible deals including one that had a framework of Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury going to Texas with the Red Sox getting left-hander Derek Holland.  However, Beckett told WEEI's Rob Bradford that the talks never gained enough traction for the team to discuss the possibility of him waiving his no-trade rights.
  • The Dodgers were among the clubs with interest in Beckett prior to the July 31st deadline and that was information that the Red Sox stored for later.
  • The club's previous free-spending ways handcuffed them from even considering a run at Yu Darvish after the 2011 season.  Of course, the blockbuster with L.A. gave them much more flexibility going forward.  GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that a trade deadline deal like the Jake Peavy trade this year simply wasn't possible given the payroll constraints that the team previously faced.
  • Boston considered using their prospects to help get out from under bad contracts, but they ultimately decided against that.  "We'd made the decision long term, we were just going to need to start holding on to [top prospects] and figuring out what they could do," said one team official. "Instead of picking the right guy, keep them all in the tub and let them decide for us. Back when we were good, that's what we did."  
  • Up until the Dodgers deal happened, Cherington says that he wasn't planning on making any significant moves in August.  There was some thought given to turning the Dodgers down and waiting until the offseason when they could revisit talks with L.A. and other clubs.  However, Boston didn't want to let the opportunity to start fresh pass them by. 

Hanley Ramirez Open To Extension With Dodgers

Hanley Ramirez is a year and a half away from free agency but the shortstop told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he would be happy to discuss an extension with the Dodgers if the team broached the subject.  "Definitely, because I want to stay here," Ramirez said. "I want to stay here forever."

Offseason thumb surgery and a hamstring injury have limited Ramirez to just 142 PA this season, but he returned to the Dodgers lineup in early June and has been in great form ever since.  Ramirez is hitting .386/.444/.693 with eight homers and appears to be back on track after disappointing seasons in 2011-12.  Ramirez credited the Dodgers training staff with helping him return to full fitness, one of the reasons he wants to stay with the club over the long term, not to mention the fact that the Dodgers are focused on contending.

Ramirez signed a six-year, $70MM extension with the Marlins in May 2008 that covered the 2009-14 seasons, and Ramirez will earn $16MM in the final year of that deal.  The Dominican Republic native will be 31 years old on Opening Day 2015 — the back end of his prime, but still young enough to secure another strong contract in free agency, especially if he keeps hitting. 

The Dodgers, of course, haven't been shy about adding big contracts and signing key players to major extensions.  The club is guaranteed to spend at least $122MM on payroll in every year through the 2017 season and could sign Clayton Kershaw to an extension worth a minimum of $180MM.  Shortstop Corey Seager was ranked as the third-best prospect in the Dodgers system by the Baseball America Prospect Handbook (behind only Hyun-Jin Ryu and Yasiel Puig) and he's hitting well at A-ball, but Seager is only 19 years old and "likely will face a move to third base at some point" according to BA, so Ramirez could help solidify the shortstop position in L.A. for years to come.

Olney On Puig, Wells, Martin, Teixeira, Hanley

The latest from ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required)…

  • Cuban slugger Yasiel Puig is forcing the Dodgers' hand with his monster performance in Spring Training, Olney writes. While the team clearly has no place for him to play given the presence of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the buzz he's generating and intrigue from scouts could force the team to consider him for a quick promotion to complement Ethier and/or Crawford against left-handed pitching.
  • Olney wonders why the Yankees appear willing to take on $13MM of Vernon Wells' salary in the trade that has reportedly been agreed to, but wouldn't spend that money on Russell Martin earlier in the offseason: "Instead of having a good defender at a premium defensive position, they have now invested that money in a corner outfielder who has been in decline the last couple of seasons and wasn't even used as a regular player for much of 2012."
  • One possible explanation, as Olney notes, is the salary relief the Yankees will get from Mark Teixeira's injury. The World Baseball Classic is paying the team $7-8MM to cover the injury sustained by Teixeira as he prepared for the event.
  • Similarly, the WBC is picking up the tab for the Dodgers on the injury sustained by Hanley Ramirez in the Championship game.