Manny Ramirez Rumors
Free agent slugger Manny Ramirez has drawn interest from several Major League teams and is only considering a return to the majors, minors or Japan, MLBTR's Zach Links reports (Twitter links). These are the only options Ramirez would consider in order to continue his career, Links hears, as rumors connecting Ramirez to independent league teams are "totally untrue." There isn't any timetable on when, or if, Ramirez could sign with a team.
Ramirez last appeared in the Majors in 2011, when he made 17 plate appearances for the Rays and was then served with a 100-game suspension for PED use. The suspension caused Ramirez to briefly retire, but he returned and served a reduced 50-game ban after signing a minor league deal with the A's before the 2012 season. Ramirez spent 2013 playing in Taiwan and for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate. Though he turns 42 in May, Ramirez has been vocal about wanting to keep playing and switched his representation in February.
Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew both share the same agent (Scott Boras), the same predicament (unsigned free agents with draft pick compensation attached), and the same frustration over their situation, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. "Nothing I can do," Morales told Cafardo. "I don’t understand, but I’m just waiting for something." Morales and Drew work out together for five hours each day, six days a week. "We don’t talk too much about what we’re going through," said Drew, who turns 31 today. "We talk about other things mostly, but he’s been a good guy to work out with and go through this with." Cafardo opines that the pair reside in baseball prison, adding that Morales makes sense for the Mariners, Brewers, and Pirates, while the Mets remain the best fit for Drew. Also from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- According to Cafardo, there are scouts and front office people who feel the best fit for Drew is actually New York's other team: the Yankees.
- The Yankees are a little cautious about dealing catcher Francisco Cervelli since they believe he's the best option to start if something should happen to Brian McCann.
- Manny Ramirez is eyeing another MLB comeback and is working out in Miami with Miguel Tejada, but the 12-time All-Star has an image problem to overcome. "He's poison," one National League GM told Cafardo. “I know he's changed his life around and his personality has changed, but I doubt anyone would take the risk, especially with a 42-year-old player. I think a lot of teams would pardon one PED offense, but two? I doubt it, but crazier things have happened. Never take away the fact he was one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever."
- In a separate article, Cafardo reports, with the renaissance of Grady Sizemore and the very good camps of Bryce Brentz and Corey Brown, the Red Sox's outfield depth could lead to a trade. Mike Carp is the leading candidate to be dealt because of his ability to also play the infield corners. The Tigers, Brewers, and Pirates have reportedly shown interest in the 27-year-old.
Manny Ramirez last saw MLB action with the Rays (briefly), and of course will always be associated with the Red Sox. As he continues to look for another chance at the bigs, the slugger spoke with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, acknowledging and expressing contrition for his prior PED use. Ramirez says he could play a role similar to that of Raul Ibanez on the field and in the clubhouse. Here are some notes from around the American League East:
- Always-interesting Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says that he faces an unprecedented amount of responsibility to lead the way in the lineup, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "I'll give it a try, but I don't think there's a baseball player that has lived through this pressure at my age," said Ortiz. "Think about it. Guys my age are supposed to be complementary players. Nobody signs guys my age to be 'The Man.'" The 38-year-old, of course, is entering the final year of his current contract, and there has been no word of progression on extension negotiations.
- The Orioles are looking at out-of-options pitcher Zach Britton in different roles in anticipation of a possible move to the pen, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Britton, a 26-year-old lefty, has been mentioned as a possible trade chip for Baltimore. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently explained in addressing the O's out-of-options players, the team faces a roster crunch that will require it to make some tough calls on a number of players, Britton among them.
- There is still no movement on the extension situation of Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, writes MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. Hardy comes across as somewhat frustrated with having to deal with speculation, noting that his previous extension came about in short order. "There has been not much talk at all," he said. "I don't know what they're thinking. The ball is in their court if they want me. They know I like it here." Hardy also added that he would want to address his long-term position before inking a new deal. "If there are any intentions at all of signing me to a long-term deal and wanting Manny to move over to short I would definitely want to know that before," he explained, "because, yeah, I still feel like I can play shortstop and that is what I want to do."
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."
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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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.”
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."