Hanley Ramirez Rumors
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com's reports (on Twitter) that the Marlins briefly considered trading Hanley Ramirez to free up money so they could sign Prince Fielder, but they decided against it. Prince is in Detroit now, and Hanley will come to camp as the third baseman.
- The Marlins are prepared to make a significant offer to Yoenis Cespedes according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. He says it'll be four-to-six years in length. Cespedes recently gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and is waiting to be declared a free agent by MLB.
- Meanwhile, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that Cespedes has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami. However, Friasro tweets that Cespedes has no issues playing for the Marlins.
Here's a look at some items out of the AL East..
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter) heard from multiple sources today who doubt that the Red Sox will make a play for Hanley Ramirez after trading Marco Scutaro to the Rockies. However, the club is looking at both pitchers and position players now, according to a source (Twitter link).
- The Rays budgeted about $6MM for Carlos Pena but upped their bid to $7.25MM out of fear that the Tigers would jump in after losing Victor Martinez for the season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter).
- With Pena aboard, the Rays are probably done shopping, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. While there's some talk of adding a right-handed hitter to the bench, it's not likely to be a major signing. A trade is still possible, however, as they have a surplus of starting pitchers.
- Rob Neyer of SB Nation doesn't understand the logic behind the Red Sox trading Scutaro. While the deal saves the club $6MM, it also means a downgrade at the shortstop position. The club is reportedly comfortable with a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon.
- In a perfect world, Boston would add both Roy Oswalt and Cody Ross if GM Ben Cherington can create a little more financial breathing room, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The Red Sox, he notes, have kept dialogue open with Oswalt throughout the winter.
- While it's tough to draw conclusions from the Scutaro trade until the money saved is reallocated, it's safe to say that GM Ben Cherington wasn't as comfortable with his pitching as he claimed, says Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal (Twitter links).
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday sees the Yankees signing Raul Ibanez to take some of the at-bats that would have gone to Jesus Montero at DH. The club would prefer a lefty bat and Ibanez isn't terribly concerned about money and plate appearances.
- While he's been given many opportunities to do so, Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette has never firmly denied interest in Manny Ramirez, notes Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Hanley Ramirez still has a “strong preference” to remain at shortstop, but will deal with his upcoming position change professionally. The Marlins are expected to meet with the infielder in Miami this week, according to Rosenthal. Ramirez indicated to the Associated Press last Friday that he was content to move to third base to accommodate Jose Reyes
- Joe Frisaro of MLB.com hears that the Marlins have little or no interest in free agent starters Edwin Jackson or Joe Saunders. However, the Marlins would be willing to trade top prospects to acquire a frontline starter.
- Which Marlins prospects will appeal to rival teams? Outfielder Christian Yelich and right-hander Jose Fernandez top Kevin Goldstein’s list of Marlins prospects at Baseball Prospectus.
Links are in Spanish...
- Hanley Ramirez gave his clearest statement yet on a possible position change, telling the AP's Dionisio Soldevila on Friday, "I've talked with [Ozzie] Guillen, and what we both want is to win with the Marlins. When January arrives, we'll see what happens with the position change and everything else. If it's at third, fine. Wherever they put me, I'll do it in order to win." As for his surgically repaired shoulder, Ramirez described it as responsive and 95 percent healed.
- Cubs closer Carlos Marmol has heard the rumors of his availability, and he told Julio E. Castro C. at Multimedios del Caribe that he's resigned to whatever the team decides to do with him. "It's their business," he said. "For good or bad, I have to accept it. My job is to pitch, not to handle team business. If I stay with the Cubs, great for me, and the same if not. I repeat: This is a business."
- Vicente Padilla has been dominating hitters in his native Nicaraguan league over the last month, and the 34-year-old pitcher told Osman Rosales Cruz at El Nuevo Diario that he wants to sign as a starter with a Major League team. Yesterday, Cruz reported that the Marlins were eyeing Padilla, and in today's piece he describes asking the pitcher about the rumor: "'Truthfully, I can't talk about that,' Vicente insisted at first, but later he came up to me without the recorder and told me, 'Maybe.'"
Cornelius Alexander "Connie" Mack was born on this day in 1862. After an 11-year playing career, Mack went on to become the manager and co-owner of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901 and was a fixture in the A's dugout for the next half-century. Between his 50 years with the A's (and three years managing the Pirates from 1894-96), Mack won five World Series titles and compiled a 3731-3948 record. Needless to say, Mack's records for managerial wins and losses will never be broken.
Some news from around the majors...
- The Indians made "an aggressive" two-year contract offer to Carlos Beltran worth "very close" to the $26MM Beltran received from the Cardinals, a source tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
- The Braves have been rather quiet this offseason but "the fact is we like our team," GM Frank Wren tells David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We continue to have some conversations,” Wren said. “We’d have liked to have gotten something done in November in some areas, but just weren’t the matches....We’re continuing to work different options. This was not a good free-agent year, not a lot of players that impacted teams, especially in the areas we would like to get better in.” Wren said the Braves may wait to see how their players perform during Spring Training before deciding if they need to bring in some new acquisitions.
- The Padres still have around $7-$9MM to spend this winter, observes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of his weekly chat with fans.
- Center also discusses Anthony Rizzo trade rumors, citing the Rays and Cubs as the most interested parties. Center thinks teams who miss out on Prince Fielder (such as possibly the Mariners and Orioles) could look at Rizzo as well.
- The Reds will use Sean Marshall as a setup man, not as a closer, once their deal with the Cubs is finalized, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Fay also wonders if the Reds are working out a contract extension with Marshall, as the price of Travis Wood plus two prospects seems high for a reliever who is only under control through 2012.
- The Mariners are still interested in Jeff Francis, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Seattle wants a veteran like Francis for the rotation to serve as a bridge for the team's young pitchers. We heard about the Mariners' interest in Francis earlier this month, and the Twins, Pirates, Cubs and Rockies have also been linked to the Canadian left-hander.
- Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game runs down the 10 biggest stories that emerged from this year's amateur draft.
- Former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez told Todd Hollandsworth and Jim Memolo of MLB Network Radio (as reported by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that he didn't agree with Miami's signing of Jose Reyes. "You already have an All-Star shortstop, why spend money on another All-Star shortstop?" Rodriguez asked. "Why not put the money into another player, like Albert Pujols or a front-line pitcher?” Rodriguez also wondered how "a very proud player" like Hanley Ramirez would handle switching positions and having Reyes be the center of media attention in Miami.
- The Giants haven't spent much to address their lack of hitting this winter, writes Fangraphs' Wendy Thurm.
Here's the latest from the National League East...
- The Nationals "have had little contact with" Roy Oswalt, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. We heard last week that Oswalt was the Nats' "plan B" once Mark Buehrle signed with Miami. The Nats didn't bid on Yu Darvish and won't meet Oakland's price for Gio Gonzalez, so the club may stick with its current rotation.
- Ladson believes the Nationals will look for bench help before re-entering the pitching market. To that end, Ladson reports the team is maintaining interest in Mike Cameron, Mark DeRosa and Greg Dobbs. (Both links go to Ladson's Twitter account.)
- The Marlins are interested in Rays right-hander Wade Davis, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. With Matt Moore, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson as untouchables and the Rays seemingly determined to keep James Shields, Davis and Jeff Niemann are the most likely Rays pitchers to be moved, if the club does indeed try to deal from its pitching surplus. The inter-Florida rivals have already completed one (lower-profile) trade this offseason, involving righty Burke Badenhop.
- The Mets have talked to Ronny Cedeno and Jack Wilson, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Wilson has been linked to the Mets for a few weeks, but Cedeno is a new name in the mix for the Amazins. The Red Sox and Braves have also had interest in Cedeno this offseason.
- Also from Heyman, the Phillies made Michael Cuddyer an early contract offer worth more than $25MM. The club lost interest in Cuddyer, however, after signing Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix. Cuddyer agreed to a three-year, $31.5MM deal today with the Rockies.
- Dontrelle Willis sounded confident that he will play alongside his longtime friend Jimmy Rollins with the Phillies next season, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Jose Reyes has yet to speak to Hanley Ramirez since signing with the Marlins, according to The Associated Press. "As soon as I have the opportunity, I'm going to talk to him, because we are very good friends," Reyes said. "We're both here for one reason -- to win the World Series. It doesn't matter where I'm going to play or where he's going to play."
- The Braves will rely on several players aged 24 and under next season, but Fangraphs' Jason Roberts thinks the health of veterans like Chipper Jones and Tim Hudson are bigger concerns for the club.
The Marlins don't intend to trade Ramirez, even after signing shortstop Jose Reyes. However, Olney reported Sunday that at least four teams have talked to the Marlins about a possible deal involving Ramirez. At this point he projects as the team's everyday third baseman, though he appears to prefer playing shortstop.
Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 2000, appeared in just 92 games this past season due to a sprained left shoulder. He posted a .243/.333/.379 line in 385 plate appearances -- far from his career .306/.380/.506 line.
The Venezuelan Winter League's annual home run derby took place last night at City University (Ciudad Universidad) in Caracas, with longtime Mariners minor leaguer Luis Jimenez besting a host of MLB talent including Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Gonzalez, Andruw Jones, Bobby Abreu, Miguel Montero, and Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano, a surprise entry, made a decent showing, hitting his first offering out to left field and ultimately tying Gonzalez with two bambinazos, according to Oscar Alonso Delgado at Correo del Carroní. He also had the quote of the night. Links are in Spanish...
- Talking to reporters at the derby, Zambrano outlined his re-commitment to the Cubs following a disastrous 2011 season. "I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
- Alas, Ozzie Guillen didn't participate in the derby, but he did speak to the press, contesting recent reports that Hanley Ramirez has resisted moving to third base. "It never came from Hanley that he was upset. That was from the press," Guillen said, according to Manuel Lira at Líder. "He's calm. I've talked with him through Miguel Cabrera. He knew before the signing what the Marlins were going to do, and afteward, he talked with the front office for 20 minutes and didn't express any unhappiness. I want Hanley to be happy, and I'll talk with him when things quiet down."
- Guillen also shared the mic briefly with Omar Vizquel, who complained to the Venezuelan press earlier this offseason that that the White Sox treated him like he was "in intensive care" last season. Guillen joked, "They booted me [from Chicago] because of Vizquel," but apparently feelings aren't too raw, because in a separate piece in Líder by Joiner Martinez, the new Marlins manager added, "Omar Vizquel is a possibility for our team... We don't know which players we're going to sign, but Vizquel could play two or three more years in the big leagues." Guillen clarified, however, that Zambrano isn't in his plans at the moment.
Some afternoon reading pertaining to Eastern division teams...
- The Orioles traveled to the Dominican Republic to scout Yoenis Cespedes this past weekend, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNSports. Among those in attendance were manager Buck Showalter, executive director or international recruiting Fred Ferreira, director of international operations David Stockstill, scout Carlos Bernhardt, and bullpen coach Bill Castro. Kubatko says O's brass is staying tight-lipped about whether or not they'll attempt to sign Cespedes.
- Kubatko's colleague Pete Kerzel writes that the Nationals could non-tender Jesus Flores, Doug Slaten, and Tom Gorzelanny before tomorrow night's deadline.
- There have been some reports that the Marlins have discussed trading Hanley Ramirez, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes that the Fish aren't looking to Ramirez and those discussions were all intitiated by other teams.
A few notes from Buster Olney's latest Insider-only blog entry at ESPN.com:
- Olney discusses the Ryan Braun bombshell, noting players across the league "are much more vigilant about PED use than they used to be." While players often treated PED users with indifference in the past, many now view users as a threat to their livelihood. The Brewers released a statement on Braun late last night.
- At least four teams have talked to the Marlins about a Hanley Ramirez trade, but none of the discussions seem to have progressed at all.
- Within the industry, the Rangers are viewed as the frontrunner for Yu Darvish, given the extensive scouting they've done.
- The fact that Albert Pujols agreed to sign with the Angels without a single face-to-face visit with the Angels' brass or to Anaheim is a strong indicator that Pujols was unhappy with the Cardinals' negotiations, says Olney.
- Having dealt Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow, the Athletics will continue making moves and will "probably" trade Andrew Bailey and Gio Gonzalez in the coming weeks.