Hanley Ramirez “is going to be our first baseman,” a high-ranking Red Sox source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The club is committed to using Ramirez at first in 2016 and the Sox have mapped out a rough 140-game schedule for Ramirez at the position. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported earlier today that the Red Sox were shopping Ramirez. While this statement from Bradford’s source won’t end that speculation, it only makes sense that the club is preparing as if Ramirez will be on the roster rather than assuming a trade partner will be found. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski also said the Sox were intent on using Ramirez at first during his season-end media conference, for what it’s worth.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Red Sox will likely need to make a decision about whether to keep or trade Ramirez before the Winter Meetings if they want a shot at signing Chris Davis, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. Davis could well agree to a deal at the Meetings, leaving Boston looking for lower-tier first basemen as platoon options to share time with Travis Shaw and utilityman Brock Holt. Signing Davis before trading Ramirez, of course, isn’t feasible since it would leave the Sox with zero negotiating position in trade talks.
- The Blue Jays are looking at relievers with closing experience, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link), and Ryan Madson is one of the names under consideration. Madson had a tremendous year as the Phillies’ closer in 2011 but then missed the next three seasons with injuries before reviving his career in the Royals’ bullpen in 2015. In looking for former closers, it stands to reason that the Jays are still considering stretching out current ninth-inning man Roberto Osuna as a starter. The Tigers and Dodgers have also been rumored to be interested in Madson this offseason.
- J.A. Happ discussed signing with the Blue Jays in an interview on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link), saying that multiple teams showed interest but “Toronto was really aggressive” in making a deal happen. Happ was also swayed by his past stint in Toronto, his good relationships with John Gibbons and pitching coach Pete Walker, and the fact that the Jays look to be contenders again next year. The southpaw said the Pirates, his former club, were one of the clubs with interest but talks “never quite got there” (hat tip to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review).
- The Rays seem to overhaul their bullpen every winter but their 2016 relief corps appears to be mostly set, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Brad Boxberger, Jake McGee, Steve Geltz and three out-of-options arms in Enny Romero, Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome seem to be the top six, with Andrew Bellatti and newcomer Danny Farquhar also on hand and probably a couple of veterans on minor league deals to eventually be signed for additional depth. Of course, Topkin notes that this stable bullpen plan could be greatly shuffled if the strong interest in Boxberger and McGee actually induces the Rays to part with one in a trade.
- In other AL East notes from earlier today, the Blue Jays’ GM search is down to two known finalists, the Orioles have some interest in Denard Span and MLBTR’s Zach Links compiled another set of division notes.