12:24pm: San Diego is indeed “focused” on Ramirez and is “getting closer” to reaching agreement with him, Jon Heyman adds on Twitter.
11:46am: The Padres are close to locking up a free agent shortstop, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. While the report does not make clear who’ll be added, it provides that Ian Desmond is not heading to San Diego.
As Rosenthal says, then, it appears Alexei Ramirez will be joining the Friars “barring a surprise.” A recent report from Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune had suggested that the club was about to strike a deal and had seemingly whittled its options down to Desmond and Ramirez.
San Diego has long seemed in need of a full-time option up the middle. Last year’s pairing of Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista was serviceable at best. While the organization added a promising young talent in Javier Guerra to a system that already featured up-the-middle defenders in Jose Rondon and Ruddy Giron, none of those players appears likely to break into the majors in the immediate future.
With some possible future pieces moving up, perhaps, a lengthier deal with Desmond held less appeal for San Diego. Ramirez doesn’t present the same upside, but also has long been expected to command far less on the open market — both in dollars and years.