Believe it or not, Manny's Return represents an opportunity for the Rockies

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The conventional wisdom went that anyone who had any plans of catching
up with the Dodgers in the NL West should have made their move while
Manny Ramirez was on suspension. Troy Renck of the Denver Post thinks that wisdom gets it exactly backwards:

Manny Ramirez returns Friday. That’s when the Rockies need to make
up ground. I know it doesn’t make any sense that the Dodgers will be
worse with their best player back. But hear me out. Ramirez isn’t
returning after missing a few days with a strained hamstring or sore
knee. He will have missed 50 games for cheating — a lengthy,
humiliating absence that’s foreign to him. When Ramirez rejoins the
lineup Friday, it might as well be March 1. That’s how far he will be
behind.

“It’s not like he’s going to hit five home runs in the first 10
games,” Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa said. “It’s going to take
him a few weeks to get going.”

I can see the logic there, and it’s made even clearer by the schedule,
which has the Rockies facing the Diamondbacks, Nats, and Braves — who
Renck sadly but accurately calls “mediocre” — facing Colorado in the
first ten days post-Manny.

Granted, any talk of a post-Manny return Rockies run would be
meaningless if it wasn’t for the fact that the Rockies made a hell of a
run while Manny was gone,
but the point remains a good one: whether the NL West becomes a real
race as opposed to a Giants-Rockies wild card sprint may very well be
decided as Manny Ramirez clears his throat over the next two weeks.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.