Manny Ramirez Rumors

Quick Hits: Perez, Pineda, Mariners, Ramirez, A’s

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained yesterday in looking at NL West out-of-options players, the Diamondbacks already have a seeming logjam in the bullpen. Nevertheless, the team agreed to a two-year deal today with southpaw Oliver Perez. That may be a reflection of the team's view of fellow lefty Joe Thatcher, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Indeed, manager Kirk Gibson had said earlier today that the club would not carry a left-handed reliever if none warranted a roster spot, Zach Buchanan of AZCentral.com reports"You've got to have people that can command the zone," Gibson said, possibly an oblique reference to the control issues last year of Thatcher and Tony Sipp. Thatcher was the only MLB piece that came to Arizona in the Ian Kennedy trade, and recently agreed to a $2.375MM deal to avoid arbitration. The 32-year-old has a solid track record, but struggled in his 22 appearances upon joining the D'backs. Now, with Perez in line for a pen slot and Randall Delgado likely headed the same way, Thatcher or another established arm may be without a role.

  • Yankees starter Michael Pineda took an important step tonight on the road back from shoulder surgery, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Throwing a slider that catcher Brian McCann called "pretty much unhittable," Pineda tossed two scoreless innings and struck out four Tigers — including Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis, and reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera. Needless to say, an effective Pineda would be a major boon to a New York club with questions at the back of the rotation (to say nothing of the future implications). The 25-year-old Pineda enters the year with 2.099 years of service, much of it accrued on the DL over the last two years.
  • Meanwhile, the Mariners — the club that dealt Pineda to New York — are looking closely at several non-roster invitees for Opening Day slots, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns. Starter Randy Wolf has had poor results, but says he is progressing. And southpaw reliever Joe Beimel is making a surprising run at a pen role, despite not having appeared in the bigs since 2011. Manager Lloyd McClendon preached patience with Wolf but lavished praise on Beimel, saying that the 36-year-old has "looked great" and "has the ability to get guys out from both sides of the plate."
  • Irrepressible former superstar Manny Ramirez says he still wants to play, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com. The 41-year-old has not been able to earn a call-up over the last two seasons, but says he is waiting for an MLB opportunity and has so far declined requests for a repeat of his successful stint in Taiwan. MLBTR's Zach Links recently reported that Ramirez had changed agents, seemingly an indication that Ramirez was serious about continuing his career.
  • As the Athletics continue to work through their difficult stadium situation, co-owner Lew Wolff says the team is considering all methods for dealing with a stalemate in lease negotiations, reports Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com"I am hopeful of expanding our lease at the Oakland Coliseum for an extended term," Wolff recently wrote. "If we cannot accomplish a lease extension, I hope to have an interim place to play in the Bay Area or in the area that reaches our television and radio fans — either an existing venue or in the erection of a temporary venue that we have asked our soccer stadium architect (360 Architecture) to explore." Needless to say, the notion of a temporary ballpark is intriguing, if somewhat frightening. Wolff took care to note that "looking outside the Bay Area and our media market is an undesirable option to ownership at this time."

Manny Ramirez Joins Miami Sports Management

Manny Ramirez has changed agents and will now be represented by Alex Esteban of Miami Sports Management, MLBTR's Zach Links reports (on Twitter).

The 41-year-old Ramirez, formerly represented by Praver/Shapiro, still has interest in continuing his playing career, hitting coach David Segui told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe back in January. Ramirez's last big league action came in 2012, though he batted.259.328/.370 in 119 plate appearances with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate last season after a dominant showing for the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan.

Ramirez, of course, is one of the most accomplished hitters of all-time, having authored a .312/.411/.585 batting line and tallied 555 home runs in 9,774 career plate appearances. However, he's also served a pair of suspensions for performance enhancing drugs and drawn criticism for his eccentric personality.

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Cafardo On Arroyo, Overbay, Drew, Boras

In his latest column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe revealed that he is part of a BBWAA committee that will explore the Hall of Fame voting process and discuss what changes (if any) need to be made.  Some of the issues likely to be addressed by the committee is whether to allow voters to name more than 10 players on their ballots, whether or not long-time broadcasters or statistical analysis-centric writers should be given a say in HOF voting.

Here's the latest hot stove news from Cafardo…

  • Two new teams have joined the hunt for Bronson Arroyo.  At least one of his suitors is moving closer to giving Arroyo the third contract year he's looking for, though that third year could come in the form of a vesting option.  Cafardo isn't sure if the Twins were that mystery team, though they've been interested in Arroyo all winter.  He also cites the Yankees and Phillies as interested parties, as those two clubs join the likes of the Orioles, Mets and Pirates as those linked to the veteran righty this winter.  Cafardo reported last month that Arroyo has received two-year contract offers from four different teams.
  • Free agent Lyle Overbay is an option for both the Astros and Brewers at first base.  Milwaukee is also still considering signing Michael Young for first, or trading for Mitch Moreland of the Rangers.
  • Agent Scott Boras says “there are five or six teams who I have actively talked to concerning Stephen [Drew],” including the Red Sox.  As you might expect, Boras denied that Drew's market is in any way limited, noting that Drew doesn't have a new contract yet since "free agency is a long process.  It just doesn’t end at Christmas. It’s a January, February, and even a March process."
  • Boras "has a tremendous stake in the Red Sox’ present and future," Cafardo writes, noting that the agent represents not just Drew, but also top youngsters Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley and Deven Marrero.
  • "The silence on [Kendrys] Morales is deafening," as teams are reluctant to give up a first round draft pick as compensation for the slugger.  At least one team said they're leery about spending significant money for a DH, though Boras, Morales' agent, counters by noting the impact that David Ortiz has had on the Red Sox and also noting that his client can play first base.
  • Johnny Damon has stayed in shape and would be willing to resume his career.  The 40-year-old hinted at retirement if he couldn't find a contract last offseason and indeed Damon ended up sitting out the 2013.  Damon is also a Boras client, and the agent tells Cafardo that Damon has yet to contact him about officially retiring.
  • Manny Ramirez wants to continue his career, his hitting coach David Segui predicts, though Segui hasn't spoken to Ramirez in over two months.  “Manny will always be able to hit,” Segui said. “He loves to play, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still looking for something.”  Ramirez's agent, Barry Praver, said in November that his client looking for a return to the Majors.  Ramirez, 41, last played with the bigs with the Rays in 2011 before being suspended for PED use.  Over the last two years, Ramirez spent some time with the Athletics' and Rangers' Triple-A affiliates and also played in Taiwan.
  • A National League GM predicts that one of Masahiro Tanaka's many suitors will "come in and blow everyone away.  There’s going to be a dance where everyone is in the same boat and then there will be a team that breaks the bank for him.”


Quick Hits: Santana, Red Sox, Kuroda, Cano, Bay

Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched…or are they?  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke.  MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap. 

Here's some news from around baseball…

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.  Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
  • The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said.  Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
  • Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
  • Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets.  The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
  • Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links).  Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
  • Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link).  Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign.  Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America.  Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.

West Notes: Ramirez, Giants, Zito, D’Backs

Earlier today a pair of AL West clubs made a small trade when the Astros shipped Travis Blackley to the Rangers for cash and a player to be named later.  Blackley, who was recently outrighted by Houston, was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock.  Here's a look at the latest out of the AL and NL West..

  • Manny Ramirez tells Hector Cruz of ESPNDeportes (via Twitter, Spanish link) that he won't retire from baseball and will seek out a new opportunity.  The slugger was released by the Rangersyesterday.
  • Barry Zito's large home/road split is an obstacle to an August trade, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says.  The Giants hurler has a 3.01 ERA in 71.2 innings at home this year, but a 9.50 ERA in 41.2 innings on the road.  However, the lefty is now in the final guaranteed months of his contract, so it could be "more than just a formality" that he cleared waivers, sources told Knobler.  Zito is owed $20MM this season, with a $7MM buyout for 2014.
  • The Diamondbacks won't rush to promote top prospect Archie Bradley this season unless they're in the thick of things and he can make a difference, writes MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Rangers Release Manny Ramirez

The Rangers have released Manny Ramirez from Triple-A Round Rock, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). The slugger had signed a minor league deal with Texas on July 3.

The 41-year-old Ramirez hit .259/.328/.370 with three homers for the Rangers during his time at Round Rock but drew questions from scouts on his bat speed. Ramirez began the season in Taiwan playing for the EDR Rhinos, where he hit .352 with eight homers, but he was unable to translate that success back over to the United States.

In parts of 19 Major League seasons between the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox and Rays, Ramirez is a .312/.411/.585 batter with 555 homers.


Latest On The Rangers’ Search For Hitters

Even after acquiring Matt Garza earlier this week, reports have indicated that the Rangers are looking for offensive upgrades. They've been linked to Alex Rios, Hunter Pence and Kendrys Morales already, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports now reports that the team has had internal discussions about re-acquiring Michael Young, given the news that Lance Berkman could miss the remainder of the season or even retire.

Heyman cautions that a Young trade isn't a likely outcome, and the Rangers are still more focused on adding outfield bats as they await the fate of Biogenesis-connected outfielder Nelson Cruz. The Yankees, Red Sox and Reds are all said to be considering Young as well. Heyman reports that the Rangers have also expressed interest in Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia and Mets outfielder Marlon Byrd, though reports indicate that the Mets feel little inclination to part with Byrd.

Texas has Manny Ramirez at Triple-A Round Rock, but his bat has cooled since a hot start, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported late last night that the team was unlikely to give Ramirez a shot anytime in the near future. Passan reported that the Rangers may not recall Ramirez at all, and one scout who watched Manny told Passan:

"This isn't Manny Ramirez. This is a 41-year-old still trying to play baseball and not doing it very well."

Ramirez is hitting .250/.318/.417 with three homers in 66 plate appearances since signing with the Rangers and reporting to Triple-A. He's struck out eight times and drawn six walks, but an evaluator told Passan that his bat "looked slow."


AL West Notes: Manny, Rangers, Gonzalez, Angels

It's the start of trade season with July underway, but the Rangers made the biggest splash of the day with a minor league signing.  Fresh off of a very successful stint in Taiwan, Manny Ramirez will attempt to join the majors for the first time since his brief stint with the Rays in 2011.  Whether Manny can bring his hot hitting from overseas to Arlington, Texas, however, remains to be seen.  Here's more out of the AL West..

  • Some many wonder if Ramirez is worth the gamble at age 41, but in the case of the Rangers, he absolutely is, opines Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com.  Texas needs a right-handed bat ever since Opening Day and Ramirez's minor league deal is a no-risk move.  
  • Before signing with the Rangers, Ramirez told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) that he also had conversations with the Nationals.  The slugger believes that Washington had some interest in him as a pinch hitter.
  • The Angels have scouted Cuban pitching prospect Miguel.Alfredo Gonzalez, but likely will not compete for him as hard as others, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.  Gonzalez is being pursued by a number of clubs, but we've heard recently that the Yankees won't try to sign him and he's "not a fit" for the Nationals either.

Rangers Sign Manny Ramirez

The Rangers have agreed to sign Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal, a major league source tells Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.  The 41-year-old recently left his Taiwanese club, the EDA Rhinos, to try to get back to the big leagues for the first time since 2011.  The move has been confirmed by Texas via press release.

Ramirez, a Barry Praver client, will report to Triple-A Round Rock.  Late last month, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke with a scout who watched Ramirez and was told that he can "still hit with the best of them."  The slugger told the Rhinos that he missed his family in New York, but in June, Praver told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his client wanted to free himself in order to play in MLB once again.

Ramirez played in just five games for the Rays in 2011 before testing positive for elevated testosterone, which would have netted him a 100-game suspension.  He agreed to retire instead and when he returned in 2012 in the A's system, he served a 50-game suspension in the minors.  Unable to get into a groove, he eventually took his release from Oakland.  

Texas needs a big right-handed bat given Lance Berkman's recent struggles and they're hoping that Ramirez, who comes with minimal risk, could be the answer.


Cafardo On Morneau, Perez, Cishek, Bard, Papelbon

NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience.  The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place.  Here's more from today's column..

  • There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau.  People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value.  The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away.  If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
  • When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move.  Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.
  • Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest.  However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
  • One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around.  Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
  • The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
  • Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
  • Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris.  Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
  • One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.”  That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.