Manny Ramirez Rumors
The A's agreed to extend GM Billy Beane through 2019 this week, but the offseason hasn't quite ended, so it's time to look ahead to Beane's next move. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and others have the details on the team's plans...
- Beane said he's looking to sign a DH for the middle of the lineup, Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group tweets. The GM added that it's not easy to find a cleanup hitter right now.
- A's scouts saw Ramirez work out recently and they're interested, ESPN.com's Buster Olney confirms (Twitter link). A final decision on whether to try to sign him is expected within the next week.
- The A's continue pursuing Manny Ramirez and they're much more interested in him than Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez's health is more of a concern, Slusser writes. Signing Ramirez would be the last thing the A's do before starting Spring Training, and a deal could be reached after camp opens.
- People in the A's organization are intrigued by Kila Ka'aihue's power and if the A's sign Ramirez, Ka'aihue would likely get the chance to DH while Ramirez sits out his 50-game suspension.
- The A's have some interest in free agent DH Hideki Matsui, but he's a "real long-shot," Slusser reports. They've had some talks about Johnny Damon, who might be out of the team's price range.
- The A's are considering Koji Uehara, Slusser confirms. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney says “nothing is close” regarding Uehara and that the Rangers are looking to obtain a good return in talks with Baltimore (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal reported Oakland's interest over the weekend.
- The Orioles are working toward a minor league deal with first baseman/DH Nick Johnson, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Johnson last played in the Major Leagues with the 2010 Yankees, and though he has had trouble staying on the field, he owns a .401 career on-base percentage.
- The Korean Baseball Organization suspended Kim Seong-min, the 17-year-old pitcher who signed with the Orioles earlier this offseason, for signing with Baltimore before graduating from high school, Yonhap News reports. Kim is no longer eligible to play or coach in South Korea.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun isn't convinced that having Manny Ramirez around in the second half of the season would make the Orioles much better. However, it seems that executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette would like to see the slugger get another chance, according to Connolly.
- The Orioles also agreed to sign catcher Dane Sardinha to a minor league deal.
With starter Jeremy Guthrie entering his contract year, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette felt compelled to send him to the Rockies for pitchers Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, who can both be controlled for 2013. Duquette praised the strikeout-to-walk ratios of his new additions. Other notes from Duquette's conference call today:
- Duquette feels Hammel essentially replaces Guthrie's innings in the rotation, and Lindstrom represents a power arm at the back of the Orioles' bullpen. By the way, for the latest bullpen depth charts check out RotoAuthority, and for breaking news about stoppers follow @closernews on Twitter.
- Duquette didn't care to speculate on whether the Orioles would have retained Guthrie had he settled a month ago on a figure closer to the team's $7.25MM submission. He did note that he didn't think that salary was possible unless they won a hearing. Upon the trade Guthrie ended up settling below the midpoint, at $8.2MM.
- "We didn't have any offers of young prospects for Jeremy," Duquette told reporters.
- The Orioles top exec wouldn't comment on the Rangers' Koji Uehara, but he did say, "We would still like to strengthen our bullpen between now and Spring Training."
- Duquette admitted he's had exploratory talks with Manny Ramirez's agent and the Orioles have seen him work out, but added, "We are still considering the composition of this club, and some of the challenges of integrating a player like Manny into our ballclub and market."
Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota. The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.
Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future. Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012. Here's more from Cafardo..
- There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field. The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.
- Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder. Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
- Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play. An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
- Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez. Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
- Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
- A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past. However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
- Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
- Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback. The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected. Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
- Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter. The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
- Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.
Manny Ramirez's comeback attempt isn't your typical feel good comeback story. He abruptly retired last April following a second failed PED test, and several of his former employers had grown tired of his Manny Being Manny act. His offensive production started to wane with age, and he never had much defensive value during his career.
Ramirez, 40 in May, is one of the best hitters of his generation however, a .312/.411/.585 career hitter with 547 doubles and 555 homers. He reached base just once (a single) in 17 plate appearances with the Rays last year before calling it quits, but his comeback attempt is sincere. He's open to a minor league contract and was scheduled to work out for teams last month. Given his career earnings -- nearly $207MM according to Baseball-Reference -- it's hard to believe Ramirez is trying to get back in the game for money.
Manny is reportedly deciding between three teams at the moment: the Athletics, Blue Jays, and Orioles. All three clubs need a DH-type bat, but he would have to serve a 50-game suspension before playing. The suspension will begin once he signs a contract. The Yankees, Rangers, and Mariners could all conceivably add a DH as well, but none of those clubs have been connected to Ramirez this offseason.
Here's the latest from Baltimore...
- “[Manny Ramirez] is looking for a second chance. I think it is a good story, but that’s about all I can say about it right now," said Orioles GM Dan Duquette to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. The O's are one of three teams in the mix for Manny, though Connolly says it's unlikely the two sides are far along in process because there's so much baggage.
- Duquette also told Connolly that he's not necessarily done adding players to the big league roster. “We’re still talking to teams and there are a couple players we are interested in, but at this time of year people generally want to see what their (rosters) look like,” said the GM. “There are a couple unsigned players that might fit for us.”
- The Orioles signed utility man Jeff Larish according to his Facebook page. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports (on Twitter) that it's a minor league contract without an invite to Spring Training. Larish, 29, hit .240/.330/.449 for the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate last year before breaking his leg. He's a .224/.308/.380 career hitter in 276 big league plate appearances, though he hasn't appeared in the show since 2010.
FRIDAY: Ramirez is deciding between the Orioles, A's and Blue Jays, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reports (link in Spanish). Once he decides on a club, his agents will negotiate a possible deal.
THURSDAY: The Athletics and Orioles are the teams who are "most interested" in signing Manny Ramirez, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The extent of either team's interest is unknown, as Rosenthal notes it's "unclear" if either team has made Ramirez a contract offer. In a follow-up tweet, Rosenthal says it's possible other teams could also be pursuing Ramirez.
The A's have been linked to Ramirez on a few occasions since the slugger announced he was returning to the Major Leagues. Both managing partner Lew Wolff and assistant GM David Forst have said the team is open to signing the embattled Ramirez, who will face a 50-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy should he sign a new contract. Rosenthal notes that the A's are also still looking for relief help.
Oakland already has Chris Carter, Jonny Gomes, Seth Smith, Collin Cowgill and others in the mix for DH at-bats, so they could use Spring Training and the 50-game suspended period to evaluate what Ramirez has left in the tank. The O's, likewise, have Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds as DH candidates, so Ramirez wouldn't be a pressing need for them either. Baltimore (and Toronto) sent scouts to see Ramirez hit in a batting cage last month.
Sunday night links..
- No team has been has active as the Rockies over the last five years of locking up young players long term before they reach the arbitration process and Troy Renck of The Denver Post writes that Jhoulys Chacin is the next candidate. Chacin is eligible for salary arbitration in 2013 and can't become a free agent until 2016. When asked, GM Dan O'Dowd told Renck that the club isn't ready to do anything at this time.
- The Orioles are involved in "at least three" active trade talks, a source tells Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com. Earlier today, we learned that the O's are in talks with the Cardinals regarding Kyle McClellan.
- There are at least five major groups left in the bidding to buy the Dodgers and all have submitted bids for at least $1.5 billion, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Assistant GM David Forst suggested that the Athletics are open to signing slugger Manny Ramirez but the team is not actively pursuing the free agent, according to the Associated Press.
- Brewers negotiator Teddy Werner said there has been "good progress" in talks with arbitration-eligible right-hander Shaun Marcum, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Marcum filed for $8.7MM and the Brewers countered with $6.75MM in arbitration.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that the club has no interest in reacquiring Adam Dunn.
- The Orioles' top priority is upgrading their bullpen, but if trade talks for Kyle McClellan come to fruition he could be yet another starting option, tweets Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com.
- While Commissioner Bud Selig looks to expand the postseason from eight to ten teams this year, there remains uncertainty whether it can happen before 2013, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Despite Selig's aspirations, the Players Association still has doubts whether it's feasible.
- New Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez doesn't expect to replace Prince Fielder's bat in the lineup but says that he is fitting in well with his new team, Haudricourt writes.
Moneyball received six Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, joining Pride Of The Yankees and Field Of Dreams as the only baseball-centric movies to ever be nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Oscar. While I'm not sure if I'd call Moneyball one of the very best films of the year, it's definitely a well-made, entertaining movie, as outlined in my review from last September.
Here are some non-cinematic notes from both the Athletics and the Giants in this roundup of Bay Area news...
- Xavier Nady and the Giants share a mutual interest on a minor league contract, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 33-year-old Nady hit .248/.287/.359 in 223 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks last season.
- Also from Schulman, he outlines the Giants' several shortstop/utility infield options for next season, which include Brandon Crawford, Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Fontenot and the newly-signed Ryan Theriot. Schulman also notes that Fontenot's $1.05MM contract with the team is non-guaranteed and that Burriss is out of options.
- Tim Lincecum's two-year, $40.5MM extension with the Giants was finalized today after the right-hander passed his physical.
- Manny Ramirez is "essentially a no-risk option" for the Athletics, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. A's managing partner Lew Wolff said yesterday that he would open to the possibility of his team signing the controversial Ramirez.
- From that same piece, Slusser notes the A's still have interest in bringing back Conor Jackson, despite the fact that the club just signed Jonny Gomes. Jackson played in Oakland from June 2010 to August 2011 before being dealt to the Red Sox for right-hander Jason Rice.
A few items of note to share from the AL West ...
- There's a "good chance" the Rangers will trade reliever Koji Uehara, sources tell T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. On Tuesday we heard that Uehara vetoed an agreed-upon trade between the Rangers and Blue Jays, so it's not too surprising to hear that Texas is still shopping the right-hander. There are a number of teams interested in Uehara, according to Sullivan, and the Rangers "like what they are hearing" in terms of potential return.
- The Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki have agreed to table extensions talks, perhaps till after the 2012 season, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, meaning the 11-year veteran, who's spent his entire career to date with the M's, could enter free agency for the first time.
- Athletics managing partner Lew Wolff said he would be OK with signing Manny Ramirez, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, although the decision is ultimately up to GM Billy Beane (Twitter links). Said Wolff: "I wouldn't want to not have a player because he made a mistake and paid the price for it ..."
- The A's hope Adrian Cardenas clears waivers so they can retain him, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Cardenas was designated for assignment earlier today.