Hanley Ramirez Rumors

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.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Morales, Drew, Kipnis, Hanley, Braun

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new column up that takes a look at the hot start for the Giants' offense as well as an impressive sweep of the Red Sox by the Brewers this weekend. Beyond that, it has quite a bit of info on the top two remaining free agents and come contract extensions. Here are some highlights from his latest work…

  • Scott Boras is telling tems that he could soon land a deal for Kendrys Morales, a source tells Rosenthal. However, some of the interested parties are debating between signing him (and fellow Boras free agent Stephen Drew) now or waiting until after the June draft. Rosenthal points out that this could potentially save a club multiple picks, as the signing team wouldn't have to surrender a 2015 draft pick, and if they offer a multi-year deal, they won't have to forfeit a 2016 pick to fill the hole on the free agent market next offseason.
  • The Indians have been trying to extend Jason Kipnis for the past two years, but Kipnis and agent Dan Horwits of the Beverly Hills Sports Council rejected offers in the $15MM range (following Kipnis' two-month debut in 2011) and $24MM range (prior to the 2013 season).
  • The main hangup in extension talks between the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez isn't the average annual value but rather the length of the contract, says Rosenthal. Ramirez is likely to receive an AAV in the $22-25MM range, but the length of the contract is a concern for the Dodgers given Ramirez's lengthy injury history.
  • Surgery remains an option for Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun as he battles nerve damage in his right thumb, but general manager Doug Melvin said to Rosenthal that going under the knife wouldn't even guarantee that the damage could be repaired. For the time being, Melvin said the team "is not overly concerned" about Braun's injury.

Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez Still Discussing Extension

The Dodgers are still discussing an extension with shortstop Hanley Ramirez, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reported yesterday (Spanish language link). The sides have decided to keep things quiet, says Rojas, and it is not known where talks stand.

For his part, Ramirez did not deny that negotiations were ongoing, but neither did he affirm Rojas's source. Instead, he said that he had instructed his representatives at Wasserman Media Group that they should act as they see fit, including holding dialogue into the season. But Ramirez also made clear that he did not want to be kept apprised of things while playing. Ramirez told Rojas that he only wanted to be informed if the time comes to ink his name and take a physical, preferring to keep his focus on the season. "I don't have a telephone, I don't know what they are talking about," said Ramirez (my translation). "My role is to stay healthy and help the team."

Last we checked in on HanRam and the Dodgers, the star infielder was making clear that he hopes to stay in Los Angeles for the long term. Ramirez is set to reach free agency next year, and could well be one of (if not the) most sought-after names on the market if he has a productive, healthy year. 

Hanley Ramirez Hopes To Be Dodger For Life

It's unclear if the Dodgers' extension talks with Hanley Ramirez have progressed since they were reported to be in the "early stages" three weeks ago, but Ramirez made one thing clear today. After arriving at camp a day early, Ramirez told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he wants "to be a Dodger for life."

Ramirez declined any further comment on a potential extension, but he did say that he had treatment this winter on a damaged nerve in his back that is believed to have been the source of last season's hamstring woes. That balky hamstring limited Han-Ram to just 86 games, but when he was on the field, there were few better players in the game. Ramirez batted .345/.402/.638 with 20 homers in just 336 plate appearances last season and was worth more than five wins above replacement despite the missed time.

An extension for Ramirez would take perhaps the top free agent from the 2014-15 crop off the market before he's ever given the chance to test it. The Dodgers made an aggressive push to keep Clayton Kershaw from hitting free agency with last month's $215MM extension, and presumably, they're highly motivated to keep Ramirez in Dodger Blue as well.

Should Ramirez hit the open market, next offseason could be a rare free agent class where there are plentiful option at shortstop. J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are all set to hit free agency following this season. (Notably, however, the market may have gained a major buyer today with the news that Derek Jeter will retire from the Yankees after the season.) Those names join Chase Headley, Pablo Sandoval, Brett Gardner and Colby Rasmus as the top (relatively) young position players in next year's free agent class.

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.