Manny Ramirez Rumors
The A's made a splash Monday, signing Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36MM contract that allows him to reach free agency at its conclusion. The latest on the club:
- "The A's are likely to sign Manny Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training," writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Pitchers and catchers are due to report Saturday, while the full squad reports February 24th. Manny, of course, has a reputation of arriving late to spring training. Ramirez would serve as designated hitter for the A's, but he'd first need to serve a 50-game PED suspension.
- Despite the Cespedes signing, Coco Crisp still feels he's Oakland's best center field option. Crisp told Slusser, "Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field." Crisp noted that a center field job was one of the reasons he chose the A's over the Rays, but concluded, "I'm excited to play alongside Cespedes - no matter what side that may be."
- Cespedes' no-arbitration clause is precedent-setting, writes ESPN's Buster Olney, as in the past only Japanese players have managed to secure free agency without the typical requirement of six years of Major League service.
- As I noted earlier today, the A's have four out of options players on the 40-man roster with fewer than five years of Major League service: Brandon Allen, Jerry Blevins, Joey Devine, and Kila Ka'aihue.
The Athletics are continuing to talk to the Rangers about reliever Koji Uehara, and they are also in talks with free agent lefty Mike Gonzalez, tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney this morning. Though Olney's tweet came prior to the Yoenis Cespedes bombshell, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports later tweeted that the A's still seek a reliever and Gonzalez is a possibility. And according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are still likely to sign designated hitter Manny Ramirez, although they're out on Cuban free agent Jorge Soler in the wake of the Cespedes signing.
The A's and Rangers have spoken about a few relievers this offseason, most notably Andrew Bailey before he was traded to the Red Sox. Uehara recently invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal to the Blue Jays, and is said to prefer a return to the Orioles. Texas is reportedly looking to move the righty to free up room for Gonzalez, who finished last season with them. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes took a look at some other potential suitors for Gonzalez this morning.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
The Athletics appear to be the only team still 100 percent in the mix for Manny Ramirez, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but they'd like to add a reliever before making Manny their priority. According to Rosenthal, the Blue Jays were in on Manny at one point, but talks failed to progress. Orioles GM Dan Duquette, meanwhile, said that he doesn't see a fit for Ramirez in Baltimore last week.
As Rosenthal explains, Ramirez will be eligible to play in Spring Training games in spite of his 50-game suspension. He's also eligible to play in extended Spring Training, and can begin a 10-game minor league rehab assignment prior to the completion of his suspension to allow him to get some reps in before seeing Major Leaue action. Ramirez can work out with a Major League or minor league team prior to that, provided that he departs before the gates open that day.
Rosenthal writes that it's unclear whether other clubs are in the mix for the career .312/.411/.585 hitter. With the Blue Jays and Orioles seemingly out of the mix, it could be down to a one-team market for the oft-troubled slugger.
The Orioles were busy earlier today. They signed reliever Luis Ayala to a one-year contract and then designated outfielder Matt Angle for assignment to make room for the right-hander on the 40-man roster. Here's the latest on the O's ...
- GM Dan Duquette told reporters he doesn't see a fit for Manny Ramirez with Baltimore, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. We heard last week that the O's, A's and Blue Jays were among the suitors for Manny, so it looks like that pool has been diminished by one.
- Duquette also said it's unlikely that he'll add any more players between now and the beginning of Spring Training, tweets Kubatko. So, it looks like the roster is set for now, and with Manny out of the picture, Wilson Betemit will likely have DH duties all to himself.
- The Orioles also issued an apology, via press release, to Korea Baseball Organization and Korea Baseball Association for "the club’s unintentional breach of protocol in failing to tender a status check in the process of signing Seong-Min Kim." Kim is the 17-year-old left-hander whom the O's signed last month -- prior to him graduating high school -- much to the dismay of KBO. The southpaw has been suspended from playing or coaching in South Korea, while the Orioles have been banned from scouting KBO games.
- To stay on top of Orioles news, be sure to follow their MLBTR Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds.
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.