Max Ramirez Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
News from sources that use subjunctive tenses. Links are in Spanish...
- Francisco Liriano tells Hoy's Dionisio Soldevila he seriously considered retirement eight months after his elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2006. He also gives perhaps his clearest rejection yet of the idea that he take the John Smoltz route and step into Joe Nathan's slot as closer. "I don't want to be a closer," Liriano says. "I don't know if I'm ready to roll out there three or four times a week." After a dominant winter in the Dominican and a reportedly resurgent fastball this spring, Liriano is currently manager Ron Gardenhire's pick for the fifth spot in the Twins rotation.
- Two weeks after his acrimonious split from agent Jorge Luis Toca, Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz has surfaced again. Representatives from 22 teams recently watched Ruiz and fellow new Legacy Sports client Yadil Mujica at a staged tryout in the Dominican Republic, writes Jorge Ebro at the Nuevo Herald. The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rangers, and Rays have all reportedly made offers to the left-handed first baseman this winter, all at around $2MM. The Rays at minimum can likely be crossed off the list of Ruiz's potential suitors after the team signed Leslie Anderson.
- Rangers prospect Max Ramirez is getting more serious about moving to first, just like Mike Lowell, the player for whom Ramirez was almost traded earlier this winter. "I played a fair amount of first (base) in Venezuela," Ramirez tells Lider en Deportes' Carlos Rodriguez. "I didn't do it as much in the minors, but I've improved and I feel good." Ramirez, who is currently blocked at catcher by Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, has been mentioned as a possible solution to the Rangers' seeming shortage of reserve corner infielders. He played 23 innings at first during a brief 2008 call-up.
- White Sox fifth starter Freddy Garcia tells Lider's Rodriguez that retirement never crossed his mind after he was released by the Mets last spring after just two starts at Triple A. "They told me one thing and did another," Garcia says. "I came to fight for a spot and they never gave me a chance."
- Former Twins outfielder Lew Ford has signed with the Oaxaca Warriors of the Mexican League, reports Eduardo Gonzalez Garcia at Noticias Sureste. After a one-year sojourn in Japan, Ford signed with the Reds last August and played for their Triple A Louisville affiliate. He last appeared in the majors in 2007.
When the Rangers voided the contract of Khalil Greene last week, it appeared as if the club would look within their system for a replacement. Indeed, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan was told by Texas officials that there was a "100 percent probability" that this would be the case (via Twitter).
A week later, however, Sullivan reports that the team is changing its tune. Greene provided both infield depth and a right-handed corner infield bat, and now the Rangers "are re-assessing the situation and early confidence that the roles could be filled from within may be eroding." The team hopes that prospect Max Ramirez or former Angel Matt Brown can handle the corner infield job, but several options exist outside the Rangers organization for the utility infield spot. Sulllivan noted the Dodgers have some extra infielders in camp and listed a few other specific names as options...
- Julio Lugo. He may be the odd man out in St. Louis given the Cardinals' recent signing of Felipe Lopez. Sullivan noted the irony of Lugo possibly again being acquired to replace Greene, given that St. Louis did the same thing last summer. Sullivan also said Lugo "is somebody [the Rangers] have talked about internally."
- Augie Ojeda. We heard last winter that Texas had some interest in the Diamondbacks infielder.
- Ramon Vazquez. Sullivan said "the Pirates may be willing to talk about" dealing the former Ranger.
10:03pm: Gorden Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter) says that the teams could revisit the deal at some point, though the Rangers can find a right-handed power bat elsewhere.
8:51pm: The exact injury is a torn radial collateral ligament on the right thumb. Lowell will undergo surgery on it shortly after Christmas, and it will require 6-8 weeks of recovery, says Rob Bradford of WEEI.
8:07pm: The trade of Mike Lowell to the Texas Rangers has been called off, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The third baseman will require surgery for the torn ligament in his right thumb.
The deal, which has been talked about for some time, would have sent catcher Max Ramirez to the BoSox in exchange for Lowell. In addition, Boston would have paid $9MM of the $12MM owed to the soon-to-be 36-year-old.
Assuming that they are unable to move Lowell this offseason, do you see any scenario in which they could still sign Adrian Beltre or land Adrian Gonzalez? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
SATURDAY, 11:59am: Lowell is flying to Texas today to meet with the Rangers' front office and medical staff, and to take a physical according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Lowell saw a hand specialist in Arizona earlier this week.
FRIDAY, 3:30pm: The Rangers will have their medical staff look at Lowell this weekend, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. We should know by the end of the weekend if the trade is going to go through.
TUESDAY, 1:22pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the deal has a better than 50-50 chance of going through, though it's still not a lock.
8:40am: Peter Gammons tweets that Lowell may require thumb surgery.
MONDAY, 12:03am: According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Rangers will take a look at Lowell's thumb in-person at some point this week. Meanwhile, Boston is looking into the condition of Max Ramirez's wrists, which gave him problems in 2009.
SUNDAY, 9:40am: Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe indicates that, although the Rangers are satisfied with the health of Lowell's hip, they're taking a long look at the veteran's right thumb injury. Could their concerns be significant enough that the deal never becomes official?
"There are still things to go over,’" Red Sox assistant general manager Ben Cherington said yesterday. "It would not be a complete surprise if it didn’t happen."
THURSDAY, 9:49pm: The Red Sox will pay $9MM of Lowell's salary, with the Rangers paying the remaining $3MM, according to Bradford. That's the same split that other outlets reported over the course of the last day or so.
8:30pm: MLB.com's Ian Browne reports that the deal should go through, though it might take two or three days. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford says the Red Sox want to make sure Ramirez's wrists check out before making the deal official.
8:11pm: The Boston Globe reports that the Rangers and Red Sox have agreed in principle to a deal. The two teams have resolved a money issue and the Red Sox will pay some of Lowell's salary, as expected. Now, the players must get medical clearance.
7:14pm: The deal is becoming "more of a lock," a source tells McDonald and Barbarisi. The trade seems increasingly likely to go through, but it could take three or four days.
5:34pm: Both teams are exploring other options and the trigger "hasn't been pulled," according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
1:11pm: The deal is said to be roughly 75% done, according to Daniel Barbarisi and Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal.
10:05am: The Red Sox and Rangers will take some time to think about this potential Lowell-Ramirez deal, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
8:51am: Heyman believes this deal is better than 50-50 to get done, with the Red Sox paying $9MM. MLB.com's Ian Browne has quotes from Rangers GM Jon Daniels, who says both teams are looking at alternatives and the progress of this deal "might be a little bit overstated."
2:41am: SI.com's Jon Heyman says Boston would send about $8-9MM to Texas in the deal.
12:34am: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reminds us that because of the large amount of money changing hands, Bud Selig would have to sign off on the deal as well.
THURSDAY, 12:13am: Rosenthal spoke to a source who indicated that the deal "could still blow up" because of Lowell's hip and thumb issues.
WEDNESDAY, 11:50pm: The Boston Herald reports that "it appears the deal is done."
11:42pm: Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal hears that the Red Sox will have to eat "at least half" of Lowell's salary.
11:16pm: Rosenthal reports that the teams have a preliminary deal in place that would send Lowell to Texas for Ramirez, with the Red Sox taking on nearly all of Lowell's salary. Red Sox ownership still has to approve the deal, which is pending medicals.
We know the Red Sox are interested in Adrian Beltre. It's hard not to wonder if this proposed trade is a precursor to a Beltre signing.
9:24pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source who says the trade talks aren't currently very far along. The source doesn't see the deal happening now, but at the very least the teams are talking.
9:04pm: Price hears that there's definite movement on this trade front.
8:03pm: Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that the Red Sox will have to pick up most of Lowell's salary for a deal to go down. Texas would use Lowell at first, third and DH.
5:36pm: The Rangers and Red Sox are discussing a deal that would send Mike Lowell to Texas, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The trade is "possible, but not close," according to Bradford's source. It's possible that catcher Max Ramirez would come to Boston in exchange for Lowell. Joe McDonald of the Providence Journal echoes Bradford's report.
Lowell is set to earn $12MM next year, his last season before free agency. Theo Epstein says he doesn't expect to make a blockbuster deal before the meetings end, but a Lowell trade probably wouldn't qualify.