Nats moving Guzman to second base next year?

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Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals are considering moving shortstop Cristian Guzman to second base next season in an effort “to improve their middle-infield defense.”
Aside from a few random appearances at designated hitter, Guzman has played shortstop for every inning of his 10-year career, making 1,223 total starts there. His defense has never been great and at 31 years old the Nationals now view his glove as a clear weakness with one season and $8 million remaining on his contract.
According to Ladson, “they have been alarmed that Guzman is having problems going to his left on ground balls” and “interim manager Jim Riggleman believes a foot injury” is to blame. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs Guzman as 2.0 runs below average in 106 games this season after grading him 3.4 runs below average in 136 games last year, so numbers-wise there hasn’t been a big change.
Ladson speculates that the Nationals would leave Guzman alone if they’re able to sign a veteran second baseman like Orlando Hudson this offseason, but barring that will “try to find a defensive-oriented shortstop” or turn to prospect Ian Desmond. Desmond never showed much promise offensively prior to this season, but the 23-year-old former third-round pick has hit .328/.400/.477 with 21 steals in 96 games between Double-A and Triple-A this year.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.