Hanley Ramirez Rumors
Arizona GM Kevin Towers told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he expects a “lightning round” of trades during the 48-hour period leading up to the July 31st trade deadline. “That's when things really are going to pick up," Towers predicts. Until then, here are Nightengale’s latest rumors:
- The Dodgers are the leaders for Ryan Dempster, a Cubs official told Nightengale (latest Dempster rumors here).
- Meanwhile, the Rangers and Tigers would love to trade for Matt Garza.
- Justin Upton will be traded, Nightengale writes. It’s a question of whether the Diamondbacks complete the trade now or after the season.
- The Diamondbacks plan to trade shortstop Stephen Drew by the end of the month. They talked to the Mariners about a potential deal, but infielders Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager and pitching prospects Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton are off-limits in trade talks.
- Nightengale suggests the Marlins and Mariners could consider trades for Hanley Ramirez and Ichiro Suzuki, respectively.
Some links to tide you over until tonight's first pitch...
- The Mariners would have traded Michael Pineda to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and another prospect,Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. One executive tells Elliott that “Toronto said no at Lawrie.”
- Angels first baseman Albert Pujols told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he's not going to lose his edge, even after signing a massive free agent contract. "I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I've had," Pujols said. He added that he wouldn't be hurt if the Cardinals assigned his former number 5 to another player.
- Major League Baseball is on the cusp of a new era, Tom Verducci of SI.com writes. The sport is doing well thanks to extended labor peace and growing TV revenues.
- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen expects big things from his third baseman, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post writes. "Hanley Ramirez has a chance to be MVP in this league," Guillen said.
Links are, you guessed it, in Spanish...
- Anibal Sanchez has looked strong this preseason, but the 29-year-old told Wilmer Reina at the Venezuelan daily La Verdad that his history of shoulder problems is more than just a memory. "I've never pitched without pain. There's always a small problem with something," Sanchez said. "I have five scars inside my shoulder, and some nerve has to be touching those." Sanchez has bounced back from three injury-shortened campaigns to log 190-plus solid innings in 2010 and 2011, but he said last month the team has yet to approach him about keeping him off the the free agent market next winter. Back in January, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith analyzed Sanchez as an extension candidate.
- Despite an offseason of predictions to the contrary, Hanley Ramirez says he is confident and, yes, even content at third base. "I feel really happy. If I had known that, I would have changed before. I really feel comfortable here," Ramirez told Juan Mercado at the Dominican paper El Día. "I like playing third base, because I'm more relaxed and it makes me focus more, because I have to be prepared for every pitch."
- Jose Contreras told Luis Rangel at the El Nuevo Herald that he feared the worst when he learned he needed surgery on his pitching arm last summer. "When they told me that, I said, 'Wow! My career is done,'" Contreras recalled. "I'm not a young man. I'm 40 years old, and an operation is difficult." However, the Cuban swingman has worked his way back and says he's nearly ready to fulfill the second year of the two-year deal he signed with the Phillies in 2010. "At the moment I can say that I feel good, and if everything goes well in Spring Training, with a couple more good outings this spring, I'll be ready for the season," Contreras said.
In this morning's column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe takes a look at some of the emerging storylines in the American League East. In New York, Francisco Cervelli is set to be the backup catcher, but could become trade bait for the Yankees with Austin Romine knocking on the door. The catching situation with Tampa Bay is also worth keeping an eye on as Jose Molina needs a backup. The Rays could pick up Ivan Rodriguez or deal from their pitching surplus to fill the vacancy. If they trade Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis, Cafardo writes that it would be for a catcher. Here's more from Cafardo..
- The Phillies are making it clear to teams that they would eat as much as $2MM of Joe Blanton’s $8MM deal in a trade. Moving Blanton would allow the Phillies to have payroll flexibility and bump Kyle Kendrick into the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Yesterday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos scouted the Phillies game and left after Blanton's exit.
- Meanwhile, the Nationals continue to dangle left-hander John Lannan. The club is spreading word that the 27-year-old is available in a deal, particularly one for a center fielder.
- The Braves are in need of a left field power bat and right-hander Jair Jurrjens could be the trade bait for one.
- At some point, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar will have to move to second base to make room for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Escobar loves being a shortstop, so there is a bit of trepidation among some in the organization as to how he will accept this.
- Meanwhile, many feel that the Marlins' Hanley Ramirez won't stay happy for long at third base and eventually will demand a trade.
- With several teams in the market for a center fielder, Cafardo asked a National League scout if the Yankees would entertain a deal for Brett Gardner. Gardner is currently slated to start in left field for the Yanks but a National League scout said that at some point the club might seek out a more traditional left field option.
- The Red Sox are impressed with Chris Carpenter's live fastball but privately they are not happy with what they wound up getting in exchange for Theo Epstein.
- 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.