Manny Ramirez Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Manny Ramirez wants to return to the Majors, but Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com spoke with an official who doesn't think he'd be a fit with the Yankees, despite the Yanks' recent offensive woes: "Can't see him in the Bronx given all the baggage he brings," said Marchand's source. Marchand also polled readers, who are split about 50-50 on whether or not they would approve of a Ramirez acquisition at this point. Here's more on the AL East...
- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was the only Major League GM present to watch Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez's recent showcase in Tijuana, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Numerous other teams were there to see him, though they were represented by scouting directors and assistant GMs. One executive told Rosenthal: “The world was there to see him. A million teams were in there."
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if the Yankees should consider selling low on Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in order to supplement their roster with some right-handed bats that can help alleviate the team's woes against left-handed pitching. Both are free agents at season's end, and neither is a key component to their success at this point, opines Sherman.
- In light of the Red Sox's recent closer shuffle, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal asks if the best solution is for the Sox to re-acquire Jonathan Papelbon. As MacPherson points out, the Sox have tasked four relievers with replacing Papelbon -- Andrew Bailey (twice), Mark Melancon, Alfredo Aceves and Joel Hanrahan -- and none have been able to get the job done to this point.
Ricky Nolasco would not mind pitching for the Giants, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don’t think anybody would be disappointed to come to San Francisco. I like everything about this place: mound size, good place to pitch, crowd is great and a great team. What’s not to like?" Meanwhile, the Marlins are laying the groundwork for a Nolasco trade, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. "They don't screw around," a source tells Rodriguez. "The second they get the deal they like they'll do it." In 15 starts this year, Nolasco has a 3.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Pirates "need" the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield argues. Schoenfield points out that the Pirates rank last in the National League in OPS at right field (with Travis Snider's disappointing season thus far being the main reason why). Also, the Pirates have a strong farm system with the sorts of prospects that could well tempt the Marlins. Schoenfield suggests that the Pirates could deal Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco, both Top 100 prospects, along with catcher Tony Sanchez and an additional pitching prospect. That would still leave the Bucs with a good crop of young players that would include Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, Alen Hanson, Josh Bell and their 2013 draft class, but it would be a high price, as one would expect. Stanton isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, so the Pirates would be receiving a huge, and immediate, upgrade for the next several years. But the Bucs' financial situation makes their farm system a crucial part of any success they might have, so the penalty for missing on such a huge trade would be very high.
- The Yankees will be looking for hitters at the trade deadline, but one problem is that the uncertain timing of the returns of the Yankees' many injured hitters makes it difficult to know which positions they should aim to upgrade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Also, the Yanks would still like to keep their payroll under $189MM in 2014, which could make it tricky to trade for players signed beyond 2013.
- Manny Ramirez is still looking for an opportunity with a Major League club, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com tweets. Ramirez is also looking for a chance to play in Japan. Ramirez, 41, played briefly for the Rays in 2011, and appeared in 17 games for the Athletics' Triple-A Sacramento affiliate in 2012.
With today's news that MLB could be looking to fast-track suspensions relating to the Biogenesis PED scandal, it is worth reading USA TODAY Sports' Bob Nightengale's look ahead at the arbitration process that will have a major role in how things play out. As previous arbitrator Shyam Das explained to Nightengale, newly-minted arbitrator Fredric Horowitz will be entering "somewhat uncharted waters" as he assesses whether the evidence warrants whatever suspensions are ultimately leveled. You may also be interested in reading this interesting account (from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times) of how whistleblower Porter Fischer blew the lid on the Biogenesis clinic.
In more pleasant news, here is a look at some goings-on around baseball:
- While the Red Sox' below-slot signing of first-rounder Trey Ball freed up some cash, Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the team is still unlikely to ink 22nd-round choice Ryan Boldt. Boldt, a highly-regarded high school outfielder who was rated as high as 39th overall (by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo), reportedly intends to attend the University of Nebraska. According to Callis, he is looking for a $2.5MM bonus to forego college.
- On the other hand, with the Astros locking up first overall choice Mark Appel to a bonus that fell about $1.5MM below his slot value, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says that the club is looking to spend some of that cash on later-round high schoolers. Houston could send some of its free money to tenth-rounder Austin Nicely (a left-handed University of Virginia commit) or eleventh-rounder Devonte German (a righty who will otherwise head to Nevada).
- The inimitable Manny Ramirez has opted out of his contract with the Taiwanese EDR Rhinos and has his eyes set on a return to Major League Baseball, writes FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. After mashing eight home runs and posting a .352 batting average in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Ramirez's representatives Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro say that the slugger is "interested in returning to the majors in any role, including that of a pinch hitter." Now 41 years of age, the all-time great slugger last appeared in the bigs in 2011 with the Rays.