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Hanley Ramirez Rumors
It’s been speculated that Hanley Ramirez‘s desire to play shortstop will temper the demand for his services on the open market due to his sub-par work at the position, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that Ramirez is now telling clubs he’s willing to play third base or “wherever there’s a need.”
Just yesterday, ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that opening up to the possibility of playing elsewhere on the diamond would likely enhance interest in Ramirez. If he’s open to playing third base or even left field, Ramirez’s suitors could indeed grow, although Ramirez has never played a professional game in the outfield in the minors or Majors, so clubs may be hesitant to drop him into that role with no prior experience.
Still, even a willingness to play third base off the bat will be food for Ramirez and could open his market to include the Giants and Red Sox, while a team like the Mariners could show more interest if they’re willing to bet on the fact that he can play a competent corner outfield. Heyman reports that the Red Sox have indeed been in contact with Ramirez, even if they’re currently more focused on Pablo Sandoval.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Ramirez third among free agents, noting that he could still potentially play an above-average third base if he was willing to make the switch.
In his latest ESPN Insider-only blog (subscription required), Buster Olney looks at the latest chapter in the Alex Rodriguez saga — a report from the Miami Herald indicating that Rodriguez admitted his PED use to the DEA in January — and opines that the Yankees need to do everything in their power to be free of him. Olney wonders if the Yankees could release or suspend him and invoke the player conduct clause in their standard contract in an effort to legally absolve themselves of the remaining $61MM commitment in light of his confession. Industry perception, Olney writes, is that the conduct clause is superseded by the language in the CBA, but no one has ever really made a challenge using the player conduct clause. And, he writes, the worst-case scenario would be paying him the remainder of his salary while getting nothing in return — an outcome which could happen even with Rodriguez in uniform. Of course, it’s not a given that Rodriguez doesn’t have some productivity left in his bat, but it’s hard to fault Olney for doubting the possible contributions of a 39-year-old who has appeared in just 265 games since Opening Day 2011.
More from Olney’s piece…
- Hanley Ramirez‘s strong desire to play shortstop — or the infield in general — will be a detriment to his free agent stock, Olney writes. He suggests that Ramirez announce to teams right now that he is willing to play a corner outfield position, shortstop or third base next season in order to create the strongest market possible for his services. Olney rightly points out that the idea of Ramirez in a corner outfield spot would broaden his appeal to numerous clubs and help to create a bidding war for his services. It doesn’t seem that Ramirez is changing his plans anytime soon, however. As Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times pointed out today (Twitter link), Ramirez has changed his Twitter bio to read “MLB Shortstop.”
- Olney has gotten indications that the Mets will be aggressive with at least one free agent signing and one trade this offseason, and he lists the familiar matchup of the Cubs as an ideal trade partner. Starlin Castro‘s name arises as a speculative target for Olney, though he adds that the price tag could be prohibitive: Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler.
- The Giants are interested in working out a new deal with right-hander Jake Peavy following his excellent work for the Giants after their July acquisition. Peavy struggled in the playoffs, but his regular-season work in San Francisco was excellent: a 2.17 ERA (3.03 FIP/3.91 SIERA) with 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings (12 starts).
Today marked the deadline for players to receive one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offers, and after nine players receiving a QO in 2012 and 13 players receiving the offer last offseason, 12 players have been extended a qualifying offer by their teams in 2014. They are:
- Max Scherzer (Tigers)
- Victor Martinez (Tigers)
- David Robertson (Yankees)
- Melky Cabrera (Blue Jays)
- James Shields (Royals)
- Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers)
- Pablo Sandoval (Giants)
- Nelson Cruz (Orioles)
- Russell Martin (Pirates)
- Francisco Liriano (Pirates)
- Michael Cuddyer (Rockies)
- Ervin Santana (Braves)
Should these players reject the offer and sign with a new team, their former team will stand to receive a “sandwich” round draft pick as compensation. Those new teams, in turn, will have to forfeit their top unprotected draft pick. If a player rejects a QO but ultimately re-signs with the same team, no draft pick shuffling occurs.
There will be 11 protected picks in this year’s draft, as the picks of the teams with the 10 worst records are protected under the CBA, and Houston’s comp pick for failure to sign Brady Aiken is protected as well. The D’Backs, Astros, Rockies, Rangers, Twins, Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Phillies and Reds will all have their first-round selections protected. Those clubs will instead forfeit a second-round pick to sign a free agent with draft pick compensation attached. Teams can sign more than one free agent that has rejected a QO, as the Orioles did last winter in signing both Ubaldo Jimenez and Cruz. In that instance, Jimenez cost the team its first-round pick, while Cruz cost the club its second-round selection.
The players listed above will now have one week to decide whether or not to accept the QO and play on a one-year deal worth $15.3MM, or instead to or reject the offer in search of a larger guarantee on the open market.
The word “guarantee” is the key to that sentiment: while many will focus on whether or not the players can top that average annual value on the free agent market, more often than not, a player is concerned primarily with maximizing the amount of money he can earn over his prime seasons. Few players are ever sold on the idea of playing on a one-year deal when a multi-year guarantee can be had. Single-year contracts, on the free agent market, are often reserved for older players who don’t know how long they wish to continue playing (e.g. Hiroki Kuroda last winter), players coming off massive injuries (e.g. Corey Hart last winter) or players who have significantly underperformed in a contract year (e.g. Chris Young last offseason).
While upon first glance it might make sense to suggest a player with a spotty track record, such as Liriano, should accept the offer, there’s more downside for him in accepting than in rejecting. Even if Liriano is faced with a cold market, he’d likely be able to find a one-year contract at an AAV north of $10MM, if not a one-year offer commensurate with the total sum of the qualifying offer, as Santana did last offseason when signing a one-year, $14.1MM contract with the Braves. Whereas the downside in accepting is “settling” for a one-year deal a few ticks below the QO level, the upside in rejecting is finding perhaps a three-year deal that could more than double the guarantee he’d otherwise receive. This risk/benefit calculus generally points toward testing the market.
The one case for accepting in this year’s class, that I see, would be that of Cuddyer. Though a solid veteran bat coming off a strong pair of seasons in terms of his rate stats, Cuddyer has defensive limitations and injury questions that will also drag his stock down. He played in just 49 games in 2014 and will play next season at age 36. MLBTR’s Zach Links only pegged his free agent stock at $22MM over two years in his recent Free Agent Profile for Cuddyer. It does seem there’s a real chance that Cuddyer could come in significantly lower than $15.3MM on a one-year deal if he rejects, and the upside may not be much greater for him as a two-year deal may have been the realistic ceiling anyhow.
Reports on whether or not any player will accept the offer should be filtering in over the next week, but those looking for a quick resource to check the status of each can use MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker (the provided link is already filtered to show only free agents that have received the QO, and their status will change from “Received” to “Rejected” or “Accepted” upon a decision being reached).
The Dodgers announced that they have made a one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer to Hanley Ramirez.
The move was widely expected, as Ramirez will hit the open market as arguably the top position player in this year’s free agent class. The 30-year-old Ramirez batted .283/.369/.448 with 13 homers in 128 games this season, and while he’s been injury prone over the past few years, he comes with the upside of being one of the game’s best offensive players, as he was in 2013 upon activation from the disabled list. Ramirez slashed an otherworldly .345/.402/.638 with 20 homers in 86 games that year and is a lifetime .300/.373/.500 hitter.
Ramirez will have a week to accept or decline the offer, though that’s little more than a formality as he will clearly decline in favor of a multi-year free agent deal. If he signs elsewhere after rejecting the offer, the Dodgers would receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of next year’s first round.
His status, along with that of others who have been recipients of the qualifying offer, can be monitored in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker.
Teams have until 4pm CT today to issue one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offers to impending free agents. If the offer is turned down, a team would receive a compensatory first round pick in the 2015 draft if their free agent signed elsewhere. MLBTR will report on all of the qualifying offers when they’re officially issued and you can stay quickly updated via MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker. Here’s the latest QO buzz, with the newest items at the top of the post…
- The Braves have told Ervin Santana that he will receive a qualifying offer, a source tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The move was expected given Santana’s good 2014 season, and it will be interesting to see how Santana fares in free agency this offseason given how the QO playing a role in limiting his market last winter. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicts Santana will find a four-year, $56MM deal this time around.
- The Yankees “don’t seem especially likely” to make Hiroki Kuroda a qualifying offer, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, though the club hasn’t yet made a final decision about what to do with the 39-year-old righty. Heyman doesn’t think a rival team would give up a draft pick to sign Kuroda to a one-year deal worth more than $15.3MM, so if the Yankees did issue the QO, it could limit Kuroda’s market. Kuroda could also retire or return to Japan, making the qualifying offer scenario moot.
- Also from Heyman, there is no doubt the Dodgers will make Hanley Ramirez a qualifying offer even if Andrew Friedman and Ramirez’s agent both aren’t commenting on the matter.
Here’s the latest from Vin Scully’s team…
- The Dodgers aren’t likely to sign any starting pitcher that would cost them a draft pick, a source tells ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon. This would rule out the likes of Max Scherzer, James Shields or any other free agent arm who will have qualifying offer draft compensation attached to their services. As Saxon notes, the Dodgers’ primary offseason goal is to inject more youth into their roster, as “they’re terrified of becoming” a team loaded with declining veterans, a la the Phillies or Yankees.
- Speaking of qualifying offers, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times looks at whether or not the Dodgers would extend a QO to Hanley Ramirez. The qualifying offer (not to mention his injury history and subpar shortstop defense) could hurt Ramirez’s market, which creates the possibility that he could accept the one-year, $15.3MM offer and stay with a Dodger team that may prefer to move on from Ramirez. “It seems like a no-brainer,” Dilbeck writes, that L.A. would give Ramirez a QO and I agree — despite Ramirez’s issues, he’ll surely find a multiyear deal on the free agent market and thus there is very little threat of him accepting the qualifying offer. Even if he did accept, that would hardly be a major problem for the Dodgers since (as Dilbeck notes), Ramirez could then serve as a one-year bridge until prospect Corey Seager is ready at short.
- Also from Dilbeck, he doesn’t think GM Ned Colletti deserves to be fired for the club’s failure to advance beyond the NLDS. The Dodgers have been generally successful during Colletti’s tenure and blaming him for the many large and problematic contracts on the payroll isn’t fair since upper management signed off on those deals, Dilbeck writes.
- While the Dodgers would like to keep A.J. Ellis , the team could non-tender the catcher and then re-sign him at a lower price tag, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick opines. Ellis made $3.55MM in 2014 and he still has two years of arbitration eligibility left as a Super Two player. Ellis’ arbitration raise will be a modest one, as he hit only .191/.323/.254 in 347 PA last season, though Ellis’ hitting isn’t as valuable to the club as his defense and relationship with the pitching staff. According to Gurnick, it seems likely that the Dodgers will acquire another catcher this offseason to compete with Ellis for the starting job.
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Francisco Liriano | Hanley Ramirez | J.J. Hardy | James Shields | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Scherzer | Nelson Cruz | New York Yankees | Pablo Sandoval | Pittsburgh Pirates | Russell Martin | San Francisco Giants | Victor Martinez
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.
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.
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.