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Hanley Ramirez Rumors
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.
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 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.
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.
The Dodgers announced via Twitter that Hanley Ramirez's right thumb will require surgery, causing him to miss the beginning of the 2013 season. The infielder, who had been slated to be the Dodgers' regular shortstop, is expected to return in approximately eight weeks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the severity of the injury and the fact that Ramirez tore a ligament in his thumb. (Twitter links.)
In spite of losing Ramirez to start the year, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he isn't looking to trade for a temporary shortstop while Ramirez recovers, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports on Twitter. Colletti also said he has no plans to re-start his pursuit of free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, according to another Hernandez tweet.
Of course, should the Dodgers decline to test the market for a replacement, the club has several internal options. As Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts notes on Twitter, the Dodgers could well move Luis Cruz to short while relying upon Nick Punto and Juan Uribe at third. Alternatively, the Dodgers could turn to last year's opening day shortstop, Dee Gordon, although according to Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times, "it's hard to imagine that's the direction they will go." After a difficult 2012 season in which he posted a substandard .228/.280/.281 line, Gordon was reportedly shopped around by L.A. and seemed destined to begin this year in the minors. Other players in Dodgers camp who could be in the mix on the left side of the infield include Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker, and Justin Sellers, writes Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
Earlier today we heard that the Padres haven't settled on a long-term strategy for third baseman Chase Headley. They'll hold onto him for now, but could trade or extend him later in 2013. Here are more notes from the Padres' division…
- Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Dodgers' pursuit of trades for Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez began as early as last April. The new ownership looked ahead to the free agent market for first basemen and shortstops and knew the upgrades they sought wouldn't be available.
- Yorvit Torrealba could force the Rockies into a decision regarding their catching situation, writes MLB.com's Thomas Harding. The team loves his veteran leadership and handling of young pitchers, and could look to trade Ramon Hernandez before the end of Spring Training.
- The Rockies are scouting out of options pitchers who could appear on waivers later on this month, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. The Rockies' rotation features lots of uncertainty and some optimism at this stage, Renck writes. Here's MLBTR's list of out of options players.
- Buster Posey and the Giants are not close on an extension, but if it happens, the best comparable for a deal would be Joey Votto's 12-year pact and not a three-year one, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- Prized offseason acquisition Zack Greinke left his Dodgers teammates this morning to have his right elbow examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, but the club insists that it's strictly a precautionary move, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The Dodgers are reportedly prepared to sit on their pitching surplus for now in part because of minor health issues that Greinke and Chad Billingsley are dealing with.
Zach Links and Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Two weeks ago, the Marlins agreed to send basically every player making decent money on their roster to the Blue Jays for a package of prospects. The 12-player blockbuster became official a week ago, leaving Miami with just three players scheduled to make $2MM+ in 2013. Ricky Nolasco ($11.5MM) and Yunel Escobar ($5MM) could both still be moved before the end of the winter as well.
This isn't the first time the Marlins have torn things down and rebuilt from scratch, of course. They did it immediately following their 1997 World Series win, then again a few years after bringing home the 2003 World Championship. On this date in 2005, the team officially swung a pair of trades sending three of their highest paid players elsewhere.
Trade #1: Boston Red Sox
Josh Beckett, then just 25, was coming off a 3.38 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 178 2/3 innings for Florida. He earned $2.4MM in 2005 and was due a significant raise in his second trip through arbitration, plus the team was unlikely to re-sign him long-term when he hit free agency after 2007.
Beckett had significant trade value, so the Marlins took advantage by attaching then-31-year-old Mike Lowell to him in talks. If a team wanted Beckett, they had to take Lowell as well. The third baseman slipped to .236/.298/.360 with eight homers in 558 plate appearances that year, but more importantly he was scheduled to earn $18MM total from 2006-2007.
Few teams could meet Florida's demand for a young shortstop, but the Red Sox were one of them. The two sides worked out a seven-player trade that sent Beckett, Lowell, and Guillermo Mota to Boston in exchange for prospects Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Harvey Garcia, and Jesus Delgado. The Marlins saved all $18MM owed to Lowell in addition to second- and third-year arbitration salaries for Beckett and a third-year arbitration salary for Mota. The trade worked out well for both teams as Beckett and Lowell helped the Red Sox to the 2007 World Championship while Ramirez developed into an MVP candidate and Sanchez became a rock solid innings-eater for the Marlins.
Trade #2: New York Mets
During the 2004-2005 offseason, Florida landed the top free agent slugger by signing Carlos Delgado to a four-year, $52MM contract with a fifth-year vesting option. The then-33-year-old hit .301/.399/.582 with 33 homers in the first year of the contract, good enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in the MVP voting. However, like the contracts of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Delgado's deal with the Marlins was heavily backloaded. He earned just $4MM in 2005, then his salary was scheduled to jump to $13.5MM in 2006, $14.5MM in 2007, $16MM in 2008, and potentially $12MM in 2009 if the option vested ($4MM buyout).
Rather than pay him that huge salary over the next three years, the Marlins traded Delgado to the Mets for three minor leaguers: Yusmeiro Petit, Mike Jacobs, and Grant Psomas. The Mets also received $7MM from Florida in the trade, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the $48MM left on the contract. Delgado hit .265/.349/.505 with 100 homers during his first three years with New York, which was enough for the team to exercise his option even though it didn't vest. Jacobs had three decent years with the Marlins while Petit and Psomas flamed out, but the real get for the club was the $41MM in payroll savings. Combined with the Red Sox swap, the Marlins shed more than $59MM in contract obligations with these two moves seven years ago today.
As ESPN's Jayson Stark writes, the Dodgers are rapidly turning into California's answer to the Yankees with their big-spending ways. "Everything is totally different now," said general manager Ned Colletti. "Now we can think bold thoughts. Now we can do bold things. We can think progressively and aggressively. Obviously, we've got to be wise with our choices. We can't be reckless. But now we're encouraged to think big, to think global — if we see a toothpick, to think redwood tree."
Here's more news from Chavez Ravine…
- Hanley Ramirez's preference is to play shortstop though he can also play third base, and MLB.com's Ken Gurnick notes that until Ramirez's position is settled, the Dodgers may not be able to make any big moves at the other position. "We're fine with Hanley playing shortstop, but he's got to be better [defensively]," said Colletti. "We can wait until Spring Training to decide that. Part of the decision is based on Dee Gordon and Luis Cruz. Health aside, there are multiple issues. We'll let spring decide it."
- Also from Gurnick, Colletti said that he isn't looking for veteran catching depth. A.J. Ellis is set to start for Los Angeles with Tim Federowicz as the backup.
- Colletti has a "rough idea" of how much the Dodgers can spend on their 2013 payroll, "but it's debatable depending on who becomes available."
- At the GM meetings, Colletti said he discussed trades for "players who play multiple positions" and a trade for a starting pitcher "might be a touch more possible."
- Speaking of trades for pitching, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles lists five possibly-available starters that the Dodgers could pursue in trades: Jeremy Hellickson, Cliff Lee, Derek Holland, Gavin Floyd and Trevor Bauer.
Good news for Dodgers fans as General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed that Clayton Kershaw will not require surgery on his right hip, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Here's more on what Colletti had to say to reporters with all links going to Hernandez's Twitter..
- The Dodgers will make a strong effort to re-sign their relievers, including free agent Brandon League (Twitter link). The former Mariner told reporters yesterday that he has informed the Dodgers that he hopes to return.
- At this point in time, Colletti is leaning towards Hanley Ramirez playing shortstop in 2013, Hernandez tweets.
- Meanwhile, the club is heading into the offseason with the idea that Luis Cruz can be the Dodgers' third baseman in 2013 (Twitter link). Cruz, 28, hit .297/.322/.431 with six homers in 78 games for the Dodgers in 2012. It would make sense for the Dodgers to look in-house for an answer at third with limited options at the position on the open market this winter.
- Colletti was asked if Juan Uribe has a place on the team in 2013 and the GM responded "We'll have to see," (Twitter link). To part ways with Uribe, the Dodgers will have to eat the $10.3MM remaining on his deal.
Marlins president David Samson said executives, coaches and players share responsibility for the team’s disappointing season, Barry Bloom of MLB.com reports. Samson also discussed the team’s recent trades and potential next moves in the interview with Bloom. Here are the highlights:
- Samson characterized manager Ozzie Guillen’s first year on the job as disappointing. “It just didn't turn out the way we thought it would when we drew it up,” he said. “That's how life goes sometimes.”
- Samson said he can’t “imagine being in the game" without president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. However, he stopped short of saying Beinfest has complete job security. Owner Jeffrey Loria will evaluate all of his employees after the season, Beinfest included.
- The Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez, their longtime star, because they felt it was time to move on without him. “We just realized we couldn't win with him. It was that simple,” Samson said.
- Owner Jeffrey Loria said he’s asked his staff for recommendations and will start making evaluations toward the end of the season. Loria declined to speak about Guillen and Beinfest in specifics earlier in the week.