Ramon Ramirez, an infield prospect in the Orioles system, died in a motorcycle accident on Saturday in the Dominican Republic. The 23-year-old Ramirez signed with the O’s in 2014 and played second, third and shortstop in 55 games at the Rookie League and low- and high-A ball levels over the last two seasons. “Our entire organization is deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of Ramon Ramirez. As a member of the Orioles organization, Ramon worked tirelessly to make the most of his opportunity to play professional baseball. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teammates, and coaches as we mourn this unimaginable loss,” Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette said in a statement today. We at MLB Trade Rumors join the Orioles and the baseball world in expressing our condolences to Ramirez’s loved ones.
Some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles’ acquisition of first baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro adds some depth and gives Baltimore some roster flexibility, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. With Navarro now in the mix as a first base backup behind Chris Davis, the O’s could use young first basemen Christian Walker or Trey Mancini as trade chips. Since Navarro is a well-regarded defender at first, Kubatko also wonders if Davis could see more time in the outfield. Davis said he’s “always open to doing whatever it takes to win,” though noted that he’s much more comfortable in right field than left.
- Now that the Rays have traded Jake McGee, their next move could be to acquire a replacement setup man, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Alex Colome and Xavier Cedeno form a righty-lefty setup combo at the moment, though Topkin thinks the Rays could sign another veteran bullpen option (though not a big name like Tyler Clippard) or potentially trade for a reliever by dealing from their outfield surplus. Brandon Guyer or Desmond Jennings could be trade chips in that scenario, Topkin opines, though interested teams may need to see that Jennings is healthy in Spring Training following his injury-plagued 2015 season. The Rays still aren’t generating any trade buzz on James Loney, despite their willingness to cover part of his salary.
- The only team yet to sign a Major League free agent this offseason has been, of all teams, the Yankees. While GM Brian Cashman tells Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News that the club “explored all avenues” to upgrade the roster, the Bronx Bombers have been much more focused on trades rather than free agent signings over the last two offseasons. This winter, such major names as Aroldis Chapman, Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks joined the team. “There’s a lot of different ways to climb the mountain. This winter took us to trades. We spent money, but it was acquiring contracts through trades. We’ve traded talent from our system to do that,” Cashman said.
- There’s little question that Blue Jays fans want Jose Bautista to sign an extension, as evidenced by a very pro-Bautista response at a recent “Pitch Talks” speaker series event in Toronto. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, one of the speakers at the event, used the response to illustrate the sometimes stark difference in perspective between fans and front offices. While there are solid baseball reasons to keep Bautista (as outlined by Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling at the event), general front office logic would dictate that extending a veteran slugger past his age-35 season isn’t necessarily a wise move. While many fans understand this reasoning, that doesn’t stop the more general sentiment amongst the fanbase that the Jays should keep a player who has been such a huge star for the franchise. I outlined the tricky situation the Jays face with Bautista in an Extension Candidate entry last November.