Max Ramirez Rumors

Procedural Notes: Abreu, Blanco, Evans, Hernandez

The latest procedural notes…


Abreu, Ramirez, Blanco, Mets On Waivers

D'Backs infielder Tony Abreu, Cubs catcher Max Ramirez, Royals outfielder Gregor Blanco and Mets infielder Luis Hernandez are on waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork adds that Nick Evans and Pat Misch of the Mets are also on waivers.

It's not surprising to see Abreu on waivers, since Arizona made him available earlier in the month. Ramirez is no stranger to waivers, having been claimed twice this past winter. Hernandez doesn't have an obvious role on the Mets and has drawn trade interest


Cubs Claim Max Ramirez

Max Ramirez has been claimed on waivers for the second time in six days. This time, the Cubs claimed him from the Red Sox, according to the teams. The Red Sox claimed Ramirez from the Rangers last week after working to acquire him for Mike Lowell last offseason. For the second consecutive winter, the Red Sox have had Ramirez within their grasp only to lose him.

Ramirez will restore some of the catching depth the Cubs lost when they sent Robinson Chirinos to the Rays in last week's Matt Garza trade. Ramirez appeared in 28 games for the Rangers last year and posted a .217/.341/.348 line in 85 plate appearances. The 26-year-old has spent most of his seven-year pro career in the minors, where he has a .298/.396/.476 line. 

Before the 2010 season, Baseball America wrote that Ramirez is "a plus hitter who works the count and drives the ball to all fields" when healthy. However, the publication described the catcher as a below-average defender with below-average arm strength and well below-average running speed.

The out-of-options catcher could compete with Welington Castillo and Koyie Hill to back up Geovany Soto.



Red Sox Claim Max Ramirez, DFA Matt Fox

The Red Sox claimed catcher Max Ramirez from the Rangers, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter). Boston's interest in Ramirez is well-documented; last offseason the Rangers and Red Sox discussed a deal that would have sent Mike Lowell to Texas for Ramirez.

The Red Sox announced that they designated right-hander Matt Fox for assignment to create roster space for Ramirez. Boston claimed Fox off of waivers from the Twins on September 9th and he recorded five outs in a Red Sox uniform. The 2004 supplementary first rounder posted a 3.95 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 123 innings for the Twins' Triple-A affiliate last year.

The Rangers designated Ramirez for assignment last week to create roster space for Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes. The team already has three backstops on its 40-man roster: Taylor Teagarden, Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor.

Ramirez appeared in 28 games for the Rangers last year, batting .217/.341/.348 in 85 plate appearances. The 26-year-old has spent most of his seven-year pro career in the minors, where he has a .298/.396/.476 line. 

Before the 2010 season, Baseball America wrote that Ramirez is "a plus hitter who works the count and drives the ball to all fields" when healthy. However, the publication described the catcher as a below-average defender with below-average arm strength and well below-average running speed.


Rangers Designate Ramirez & Rapada For Assignment

The Rangers designated Max Ramirez and Clay Rapada for assignment to create roster space for Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (on Twitter).

Ramirez appeared in 28 games for the Rangers last year, batting .217/.341/.348 in 85 plate appearances. The 26-year-old has spent most of his seven-year pro career in the minors, where he has a .298/.396/.476 career line. The Rangers already have three backstops on their 40-man roster: Taylor Teagarden, Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor.

Rapada, 30 in March, appeared in 13 games for the Rangers last year. He pitched just nine innings, walking seven and striking out five. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he posted a 1.82 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 59 1/3 innings. Those numbers, which are similar to the ones he posted for the Tigers' Triple-A affiliate in 2009, have yet to translate into big league success for the left-hander.


Jack Of All Trades: Mike Lowell

Normally, JOAT likes to look at players who were dealt three or more times. But Mike Lowell, in honor of his participation in two blockbuster trades, rumors for the better part of a year, and impending retirement, gets the wanderer treatment today.

The New York Yankees drafted Lowell in the 20th round of the 1995 draft, and he quickly climbed the prospect lists, crushing a combined 56 home runs in 1997-1998. But with Scott Brosius manning third base, the Yankees viewed Lowell as surplus and dealt him to Florida on February 1, 1999 for three pitching prospects: Todd Noel, Mark Johnson and Ed Yarnall.

The deal turned out to be a massive win for the Marlins. The three pitching prospects amounted to very little. Brosius, meanwhile, posted a 121 OPS+ in 1998 and managed a combined mark of 86 in 1999-2001 before retiring.

Lowell beat cancer in the spring of 1999 and came back to post an OPS+ of 90 that season before achieving stardom in 2000. From 2000-2004, his age 26-30 seasons, Lowell had an OPS+ of 117 with tremendous defense at third base. In 2003, Lowell had an OPS+ of 128 for the World Series-winning Marlins, hitting 32 home runs and finishing 11th in MVP voting.

But in 2005, Lowell, now 31, appeared to lose his ability to hit. His season line of .236/.298/.360 was good for an OPS+ of just 77, though he did win a Gold Glove. Eager to shed his salary, the Marlins worked out a deal with the Red Sox. On November 24, 2005, Florida traded Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota to the Boston Red Sox for Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Once again, the team that acquired Lowell turned out to be a big winner, though this trade wasn't one-sided. Florida, after all, received a no-hitter from Anibal Sanchez, and Ramirez has blossomed into one of the game's best shortstops.

Beckett, the centerpiece of the deal, performed as expected, but Lowell's resurgence surprised the baseball world. His 2006-2009 in Boston included three seasons of above-average offense and strong, though regressing defense. His 2007, naturally, stands out from the pack.

That year, Lowell's OPS+ was 124. His age-33 season included 120 RBI, a fifth-place showing the the regular-season MVP voting, and a World Series MVP trophy. And Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in the American League. (That may be a paraphrase.)

Lowell gradually broke down, however, with his troublesome hip merely one of many injuries. This past winter, the Red Sox made a deal to send him to Texas for catching prospect Max Ramirez, because Theo Epstein loves grabbing decent prospects when their value is artificially low. The deal was called off, however, when Lowell needed surgery on his right thumb.

Barring a late comeback by Boston, Lowell's career will end when the regular season does. With nine seasons of 103 OPS+ or better, a strong glove for most of his career, and the postseason heroics, it is hard to believe that two teams sold low on Lowell. Stranger still, perhaps, is that Lowell played for three organizations – the Red Sox, the Marlins, and the Yankees – and made postseason appearances with everyone but New York.


Rangers Appear Content With Current Catchers

The Rangers are content with the production they're getting from Max Ramirez and Matt Treanor, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Manager Ron Washington told Durrett that he's pleased with the game calling and defense his current catchers provide.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier in the week that the Rangers are looking at other catching options. Today's report doesn't necessarily mean Rosenthal's report is off-base, since club executives can eye opposing players even when they're content with their current club. 

One catcher the Rangers definitely have their eye on plays at Triple A Oklahoma. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is working on his throwing, but his .343/.400/.552 line stands out, especially on a team that's getting a .193/.302/.266 line from its backstops.

"No one has forgotten about Salty," Washington said. "We know what he brings to the table."

Other clubs do, too, so it wouldn't be a shock if the Rangers were the ones trading from catching depth this summer. Rosenthal suggested the Astros – who could use some offense – and the Red Sox – who could use some defense – could look to acquire catchers. The Rangers could consider dealing with either one of those teams or any other club looking for a catcher.


Top Trade Chips: AL West

We've completed the National League, so now it's time to jump over to the so-called junior circuit…

  • Angels: They moved three pretty good young players to get Scott Kazmir last season, so they might prefer to hold onto the rest of their top prospects. Their best chip is someone you may not have heard of, out of options catcher Bobby Wilson. He's on the 25-man roster but has barely played as the third stringer, yet how many teams would love to have a 27-year old catcher with a very good defensive rep, a .290/.345/.425 batting line in 820 Triple-A plate appearances, and six years of team control left? Pretty much all of them. He'll never clear waivers if the Halos try to send him back to the minors.
  • Athletics: Oakland has plenty of young pitching, but Billy Beane likes to hang on to those kind of guys, and for good reason. With ten infielders on the 40-man roster, someone like Jake Fox or Eric Patterson could be moved, as could outfielders Travis Buck or Gabe Gross since Michael Taylor is coming fast. Plus there's always Ben Sheets.
  • Mariners: Jack Zduriencik surrendered a good amount of prospect depth this offseason by acquiring Cliff Lee, but no one will argue with that move. Dustin Ackley, the second overall pick in 2009, will make Jose Lopez expendable in short order, and they could choose to make one of two minor league outfielders – Michael Saunders or Greg Halman – available. Seattle's best trade chip might be their potential ability to absorb some money.
  • Rangers: Texas is absolutely loaded with young players, so they have plenty of pieces to offer. They can move Chris Davis because Justin Smoak is knocking on the door, or they could move Derek Holland because Martin Perez isn't too far away. They dangled Max Ramirez this winter, and outfielder David Murphy is about to get expensive through arbitration, so he could find himself on the block. Bottom line: the Rangers have the pieces to go out and get anything they need or want.

Latin Links: Martinez, Maya, Ramirez, Escobar

A rumor by any other name smells just as sweet. Links are in Spanish…

  • Pedro Martinez has largely been linked in rumors to National League teams this winter, but Vladimir Guerrero thought recently his former Expo teammate might join him in Arlington. "Early in March, when I reported to Texas' spring training, I heard a fair amount about the possibility that Pedro was going to sign here, but it didn't happen," Guerrero told Juan Mercado at the Dominican paper El Dia. Martinez showed last year he wasn't afraid to pitch the stretch run in a hitter's park, as National League batters actually fared significantly better against Martinez on the road (.322/.362/.517 in 20 IP) than at Citizens Bank Ball Park (.225/.274/.701 in 24 IP) during his two months with the Phillies.
  • The flurry of activity this offseason in regard to Cuban prospects is likely "the tip of the iceberg," Rangers scout Juan Alvarez tells the Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro. The latest signings from the island, of pitchers Reinier Roibal by the Giants and Sergio Espinosa by the Rays, were relatively low on fanfare, but Ebro quotes a source saying interest is quickly heating up for 27-year-old Cuban right-hander Yuniesky Maya. Maya has been linked this winter primarily to the Red Sox, who reportedly view him as a starter.
  • In an interview with the Venezuelan paper El Tiempo, Max Ramirez clarifies recent reports that he is focusing on first base as his quickest route to the Rangers' major league roster. While he admits to taking some grounders, "They still consider me as a catcher and I think that's where I have more opportunities now," Ramirez says. Earlier this week the 25-year-old's name popped up once again as a possible trade chip for Mike Lowell, but that window likely closed for the time being when the Rangers claimed Ryan Garko off waivers yesterday. Nevertheless, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Gil LeBreton recently noted, Ramirez is the odd man out at any position in Texas, especially after the team acquired catcher Matt Treanor from the Brewers.
  • Kelvim Escobar is throwing again and will stay in extended spring training for the Mets, but the team isn't counting on having him in the bullpen any time soon. A day before his previously stated April 1 deadline to decide whether to sit out 2010, Escobar told Lider en Deportes' Carlos Valmore Rodriguez that neither he nor the team are throwing up their hands on his one year, $1.25MM contract. Escobar says of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, "They always tell me not to worry, they don't want me in April or May, because that's not when you win the World Series. (They tell me) they need me for a long time, to take my time and not rush myself, to be patient about things."

Rangers Searching For Backup Corner Infielder

The Rangers are looking to acquire a backup corner infielder before Opening Day, writes Jim Reeves of ESPN.com.  Manager Ron Washington had hoped that one of the club's young players – such as Matt Brown or Max Ramirez – would step up to fill the role, but that has not happened.

One Rangers source said that the team keeps coming back to Boston's Mike Lowell.  The same source indicated that Texas believes that they can basically get Lowell for the same player they agreed to deal over the winter, Max Ramirez.

Kevin Millar is also on the Rangers' watch list, though he may earn himself a bench spot with the Cubs.  Wes Helms of the Marlins and Fernando Tatis of the Mets could also fit the bill as corner infielders off of the bench.  Meanwhile, "super-utility" players like Houston's Geoff Blum and Kansas City's Willie Bloomquist are likely too rich for Texas' blood.