Transactions Rumors

Red Sox Sign Hanley Ramirez

8:05pm: Ramirez’s option will vest if he reaches 1050 plate appearances from 2017-18 and does not finish the 2018 season on the disabled list, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (Twitter link).

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds (Twitter links) that Ramirez receives a limited no-trade clause in the deal. He will receive $50K bonuses for each All-Star nod, Silver Slugger award and Gold Glove he earns. He can also receive up to $150K each year based on MVP voting and additional bonuses for postseason awards.

5:29pm: On Nov. 24, 2005, the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins in a blockbuster deal, but nine years and a day later, the team has officially announced that Ramirez will return to Boston on a four-year deal.

Hanley  Ramirez

Ramirez, a client of the Wasserman Media Group’s Adam Katz, will reportedly earn $88MM over those four years, and his contract contains a $22MM vesting option for a fifth year.  The contract calls for a $3MM signing bonus, a $19MM salary in 2015 and a $22MM salary from 2016-18.

Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 homers for the Dodgers last season and owns a .300/.373/.500 slash line for his career, was cited by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes as the top position player available in free agency, though it was “unclear” as to how Ramirez’s market would develop.  While Ramirez’s impact bat was clearly a huge asset in an offense-thin free agent market, he has a notable injury history and is a below-average defensive shortstop, posting negative Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 totals in seven of his nine full-time seasons.  In order to help his free agent case, Ramirez said he was open to switching positions, though his signing with the Sox opens up a number of possibilities on that front.

The Red Sox announced Ramirez as a left fielder, which should put to rest any questions about his role with the team. Fellow free agent signee Pablo Sandoval will be penciled in as the everyday third baseman, and the promising Xander Bogaerts will look to improve in his second full season in the league.  Ramirez will join Boston’s very crowded outfield mix of Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava.  Cespedes’ name has been mentioned in trade rumors, so he seems like the most probable candidate to be playing elsewhere in 2015, but the Sox seem very likely to move multiple outfielders this winter.

It’s clear that the Red Sox are looking to amass as many top bats as possible in the increasingly pitching-dominated league.  The Sox have been hesitant about signing free agents to long contracts given how several of their recent major signings (i.e. Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Adrian Gonzalez) provided limited returns.  On paper, Ramirez doesn’t fit the model of the safe signing that Boston would prefer given his age (he’ll be 31 on Opening Day), injury history and defensive issues, though given how little payroll space the Sox have tied up in future commitments, the club had plenty of flexibility.

Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars.  The qualifying offer and the questions about Ramirez’s defense could have played a role, or it could be that Ramirez was simply willing to take less money to play for the organization that originally signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000.  Ramirez developed into one of the game’s top prospects while in the Sox farm system and he played his first two Major League games with the team in 2005.  He was dealt that November to the Marlins as part of the trade package that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.

The Dodgers will earn a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as a result of the signing, as Ramirez turned down the team’s qualifying offer.  Boston’s 2015 first-round pick is protected, so the Sox have surrendered both their second- and third-round picks in order to bring Sandoval and Ramirez aboard.

Christopher Meola first reported that Ramirez would sign with Boston (Twitter link), and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the terms of the deal. The year-to-year breakdown was first reported by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Roth, Marte, Williams, Asencio

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Angels director of communications Eric Kay announced today that the team has outrighted catcher Jackson Williams and outfielder Alfredo Marte to Triple-A after the duo cleared waivers. Left-hander Michael Roth, meanwhile, also cleared waivers and elected to test the free agent waters rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A. Roth had success as a starter at Double-A last season and could look to latch on with an organization that is thin on rotation depth or has a clearer path to a role in the big league bullpen. All three players were designated for assignment last Thursday as the Halos set their roster before the Rule 5 Draft.
  • The Padres announced today that outfielder Yeison Asencio has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A El Paso. The 25-year-old was designated for assignment last week despite having posted fairly strong numbers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.

Red Sox Designate Juan Francisco For Assignment

The Red Sox announced that they have designated corner infielder Juan Francisco for assignment. The move clears roster space for Hanley Ramirez, whose deal has now been officially announced by the team.

Francisco’s tenure with the BoSox was brief, to put it lightly. Boston claimed the lefty slugger off waivers from the Blue Jays not one week ago, but the addition of Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to the roster left little room for Francisco on the roster.

The 27-year-old Francisco possesses serious pop from the left side of the dish, as evidenced by his lifetime .203 isolated power mark (slugging minus average) and the even more impressive .236 figure that he posted with Toronto in 2014. However, for all of thunder Francisco can bring to a lineup, he’s fanned in more than 34 percent of his career plate appearances, he’s regarded as a below-average defender at third and he’s struggled against lefties throughout his career. Francisco’s .248/.310/.476 batting line against righties is impressive, but those totals drop to just .159/.213/.210 against southpaws.

Francisco was projected to earn $2.2MM in arbitration by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. A team with a need at third base or for a left-handed bench bat could show interest in him, but they’d be on the hook for roughly that projected amount in 2015 should they acquire Francisco via waivers or in a trade with the Red Sox.



Red Sox Sign Pablo Sandoval

3:30pm: Sandoval will receive limited no-trade protection as well as a variety of annual award incentives, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).

11:29am: Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has officially signed with the Red Sox, kicking off a fascinating offseason for Boston. He’ll earn a guaranteed $95MM over five years, with a club option for a sixth season.

Pablo  Sandoval

Sandoval will receive a $3MM bonus, then earn $17MM annually over 2015-17 before taking home an $18MM salary in both 2018 and 2019. The club option is for $17MM and comes with a $5MM buyout.

Sandoval’s addition immediately addresses Boston’s need for a third baseman in the wake of Will Middlebrooks‘ disappointing 2014 season, and the switch-hitting Sandoval also adds some balance to a predominantly right-handed hitting Red Sox batting order.  While Sandoval never had much trouble hitting at AT&T Park (a career .853 OPS in San Francisco), it stands to reason that the move to hitter-friendly Fenway Park will only help his production.

With Sandoval in the fold and Hanley Ramirez reportedly also close to finalizing a deal, the Red Sox may have landed the two biggest infield bats on the free agency market.  It remains to be seen how the Red Sox will deploy their talent given Xander Bogaerts‘ presence at shortstop, though Sandoval is the obvious choice at third base given that he has posted above-average UZR/150 numbers in three of the last four seasons.

The Red Sox were one of three reported finalists for Sandoval along with the Giants and Padres.  (The Blue Jays and White Sox also showed some interest in Sandoval earlier this winter.)  This interest didn’t result in Sandoval finding his desired six guaranteed years, though if the contract does pay him a $20MM average annual value, it will be the second-highest AAV ever given to a third baseman, topped only by Alex Rodriguez‘s deal with the Yankees. San Francisco assistant GM Bobby Evans tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that Sandoval informed him he was looking for a “new challenge,” and he apparently found that in Boston.

Sandoval, 28, had spent his entire seven-year Major League career with the Giants, becoming a fan favorite due to his “Kung Fu Panda” persona and his clutch bat.  Sandoval owns a .344/.389/.545 slash line in 167 postseason plate appearances, most notably being named MVP of the 2012 World Series.  Losing Sandoval is a big blow to the Giants, who may be looking to replace his production by signing Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.  Since Tomas could be deployed as a third baseman, he might end up as a direct replacement for Sandoval should he indeed wind up a Giant.  FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Giants are interested in Tomas as a left fielder and would likely pursue Chase Headley to fill their third base vacancy if Sandoval went elsewhere.

The Giants offered Sandoval a five-year, $95MM contract and showed some willingness to go to $100MM if necessary, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com hears the same and adds that there was an understanding that the $95MM wasn’t necessarily a final offer.

San Francisco will now receive a bonus pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as compensation for Sandoval signing elsewhere,  since he rejected the team’s one-year qualifying offer.  Boston’s first round pick (7th overall) is protected, so the Sox will instead give up their second rounder as a result of the signing.

Oscar Prieto Rojas reported direct confirmation of the signing (Twitter links). CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported today that a deal was complete (Twitter link). Jake Wesley tweeted yesterday that Sandoval and the Sox had reached agreement.

The contract breakdown comes from Alex Speier of WEEI.com, on Twitter. Heyman reported the final guaranteed figure, in a tweet. Manolo Hernandez Douen was first to report that the deal included a sixth-year option (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Lucas Harrell Signs With Korea’s LG Twins

Former big league starter Lucas Harrell has agreed to a $900K deal with the LG Twins of Korea’s KBO, according to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News. The 29-year-old righty spent last year with the Astros and Diamondbacks organizations.

Harrell emerged in Houston with a big 2012 campaign. He racked up 193 2/3 frames of 3.76 ERA ball that year, striking out 6.5 and walking 3.6 batters per nine while emerging as a popular trade target. But Houston thought it had a durable, solid starter with plenty of control, and did not deal him until it was too late to bring much value.

Harrell took a steep downturn in 2013, throwing to a 5.86 ERA in his 153 2/3 innings while both striking out and walking 5.2 per nine. After a rough start to the year last season, Harrell was shipped to the D’backs for a PTBNL and ultimately ended up with another rather ugly line at Triple-A for Arizona.


White Sox Sign Adam LaRoche

The White Sox have officially signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25MM deal, as first reported on Twitter by Bob Nightengale of USA Today. LaRoche, a client of Relativity Sports’ Mike Milchin, will earn $12MM in 2015 and then $13MM in 2016, per a tweet from Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.

Adam LaRoche

Left-handed power has been a priority for the Sox this offseason, and LaRoche will bring just that to the table, having averaged 26 homers per year over the past three seasons to go along with a solid .256/.346/.458 batting line in that same span. LaRoche will team up with American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu to create a formidable punch in the middle of manager Robin Ventura’s order. He’s regarded as a plus defender at first base, although he may see some more time at designated hitter with Abreu also figuring to log significant innings at first.

LaRoche has spent the past four seasons with the Nationals but will now move to a much more hitter-friendly environment in the form of U.S. Cellular Field, which should only serve to boost his already solid power marks. However, LaRoche does come with a sizable platoon split, having batted just .201/.269/.325 against southpaws over the past two seasons after a more promising line of .268/.319/.506 in his excellent 2012 season, when he finished sixth in the NL MVP voting.

The 35-year-old LaRoche reportedly had a two-year, $20MM offer from the Marlins and has also been connected to the Padres, but he’ll instead head to the south side of Chicago where GM Rick Hahn is acting quickly to build a team that has eyes on contention in the near future. (In a free agent profile for LaRoche, I was a bit more bullish, pegging him for $30MM over this same two-year term.) In addition to Abreu, the Sox have a pair of nice young outfielders in Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, and the rotation is fronted by a stellar combination of Chris Sale and Jose QuintanaCarlos Rodon, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, looms as a possible addition to that duo.

LaRoche is the second major free agent signing for Hahn and his lieutenants this week, as the Sox also inked southpaw reliever Zach Duke to a three-year, $15MM contract on the heels of a dominant season that can be largely credited to altering his delivery. Chicago still figures to add at least one more relief arm and could entertain trades for shortstop Alexei Ramirez, as has been rumored of late, but Hahn’s aggressiveness signals a clear goal of putting a contending group on the field in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


White Sox Designate Scott Carroll

The White Sox have designated righty Scott Carroll for assignment to create roster space for the official signing of first baseman Adam LaRoche, the club announced (per a tweet from Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com).

Carroll, 30, filled a swingman role last year for Chicago in his first attempt at the big leagues, making 19 starts and seven relief appearances. Over 129 1/3 total frames, Carroll threw to a 4.80 ERA with 4.5 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 to go with a 53.4% groundball rate. ERA estimators thought that Carroll was slightly unlucky, as he registered a 4.77 FIP, 4.58 xFIP, and 4.54 SIERA.


Red Sox Designate Ryan Lavarnway

The Red Sox have designated Ryan Lavarnway for assignment to clear roster space for the signing of Pablo Sandoval, the club announced (per a tweet from Alex Speier of WEEI.com).

Lavarnway, a 27-year-old catcher, was once considered one of the game’s top 100 prospects. But he has failed to earn a consistent chance at a big league role despite making appearances on the MLB roster over each of the last four seasons. Since first earning a call-up in 2011, Lavarnway has not demonstrated the kind of power and on-base ability that created such hope for his future.

Of course, that does not mean that other clubs will not be willing to take a shot on a still-young player with Lavarnway’s talent base. He slashed .283/.389/.370 with three long balls last year across 257 plate appearances at Triple-A. While those figures are a far cry from the 30-home-run onslaught he delivered back in 2011, Lavarnway’s ability to reach base and his demonstrated power ceiling remain interesting.


Jim Adduci To Sign With Lotte Giants

NOVEMBER 25: Adduci has signed with the Lotte Giants of Korea for $650K, according to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (Twitter links, citing Naver Sports article regarding salary details).

NOVEMBER 24: The Rangers announced that Adduci has been released and will indeed pursue an opportunity with an Asian club.

NOVEMBER 20, 10:20pm: Adduci is likely to be sold to a Korean or Japanese club, a Major League source tells MLBTR.

10:15pm: The Rangers announced that they have designated first baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci for assignment.

The 29-year-old Adduci has picked up 148 plate appearances with Texas over the past two seasons, batting a combined .189/.259/.242. His Triple-A batting line — .281/.352/.397 in 1157 plate appearances — is a significant improvement over those marks. Originally a 42nd-round draft pick of the Marlins, Adduci has also spent time in that organization as well as with the Cubs from 2007-12.


Phillies To Sign Chris Nelson

The Phillies have reached agreement on a minor league deal with infielder Chris Nelson, according to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Nelson, 29, now joins his sixth organization since the start of 2013.

Nelson has seen his opportunities at the MLB level diminish since a highly productive 2012 season with the Rockies in which he slashed .301/.352/.458. But that line was BABIP-driven and inflated by playing in Coors Field, and Nelson has fallen well shy of that pace since. Over the last two seasons, Nelson has carried a .229/.279/.313 line acrosss 308 plate appearances.

Nelson would seem likely to provide Philadelphia with a utility bench option. Though he has seen only scant time at short, he does have a good number of innings at second and, especially, third base.