After noting the dearth of contract offers after 2008, and the utter lack of leverage he had with respect to his opt-out clause after last season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders whether 2010 will be Manny’s swan song:
This might well be the last season of Ramirez’s career. If he wants to
play for relative peanuts next year, maybe he finds a job. But given
the absence of a market for Ramirez over the last two winters as well
as the suspension and the decline in his production last season, who’s
to say he even gets a contract offer?
The dynamic Shaikin describes regarding Manny’s last two offseasons has not been about finding him employment, it’s been about optimizing his position among the richest of the rich contracts out there. Of course he didn’t get multiple offers these past two winters: his fallback was in the $20 million range, and there are only a couple of clubs who ever venture in that territory, none of which needed a guy like Ramirez these past two years.
But the winter of 2010-11 is going to be an entirely different animal for Ramirez, and while I’ve taken my whacks at Scott Boras recently, he’s no dummy. Unless Manny puts up an MVP-caliber season, he’ll probably be looking for a DH or left field job paying him less than eight figures. And unless he utterly falls off a cliff this season, he should get no small amount of interest in that price range.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.