Hanley Ramirez Rumors

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.

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.