The White Sox haven’t closed the door on a return for longtime shortstop Alexei Ramirez, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670thescore.com. Levine’s belief at this time is that most of the remaining budget will be spent on an outfield upgrade, but he opines that Ramirez’s strong second half — .277/.325/.432 following the All-Star break — and questions about Tyler Saladino’s bat would make a two-year deal with Ramirez a wise investment. The Sox could still pay Ramirez less than the $10MM he’d have earned via his previously declined club option, and Ramirez would then serve as a bridge to top prospect Tim Anderson, who could be ready in 2017. Levine writes that Ian Desmond is the only other free agent shortstop that Chicago “may also look into,” but Desmond’s career OBP doesn’t fit the team’s needs, and a long-term deal for him would clash with Anderson’s timeline to the Majors. Additionally, Levine hears that the Padres, too, have interest in adding Ramirez on a short-term deal, suggesting that there will be some competition if the Sox do pursue a reunion.
Here’s more from the AL Central….
- We’ve already heard quite a bit on the White Sox and their outfield options today, and MLB.com’s Scott Merkin suggests that smoke is coming from a legitimate fire. (Twitter links.) He writes that he anticipates that Chicago would pursue an alternative outfield addition if it’s unable to land Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, or Alex Gordon.
- While it’s still unclear whether they’ll make an aggressive move on the open market, the White Sox are rather uniquely well-situated to do so, MLB.com’s Mike Petriello explains. Most importantly, argues Petriello, the team has a high-quality core and other affordable pieces that make near-term competitiveness the optimal strategy. While there are several major areas still in need of improvement, that actually increases the marginal return on a well-targeted signing. And then there’s the fact that Chicago snuck into the top ten in next year’s draft and thus needs only to sacrifice a compensation pick (tied to the qualifying offer rejected by Jeff Samardzija) in order to add a QO-bound free agent. That certainly increases the team’s flexibility to act opportunistically in a position player market that is still loaded with quality options.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently fielded a number of reader inquiries, sharing some insight into the Indians’ signings of Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli as well as the team’s plans at third base and trade scenarios involving starting pitchers. Hoynes believes that Cleveland will utilize a combination of Giovanny Urshela and Jose Ramirez at third base, and, in response to a question about a potential swap of Yasiel Puig for a starting pitcher, says the Indians want more than one piece in return for any deal sending away Danny Salazar or Carlos Carrasco. Hoynes doesn’t specifically mention whether a 1-for-1 deal involving Puig and one of those two prized young starters has been discussed, though he does note that he doesn’t believe Cleveland has ever had any real intention of trading a starting pitcher.
- Reliever Joe Nathan — a long-time member of the Twins who pitched most recently for the Tigers — is hoping he’ll be ready for game action by May or June, he said in an MLB Network appearance today (via Jon Morosi, on Twitter). The 41-year-old had a disappointing run in Detroit, to say the least, but had some outstanding seasons before that and would still make for an interesting bounceback candidate.