With Lee deal in motion, all eyes turn to Jayson Werth

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George A. King of the New York Post reports that the Yankees, Red
Sox and Rays have told the Phillies that they would be interested in
acquiring Jayson Werth.

We talked about the Phillies’ rationale for trading Werth yesterday, but the interest on the part of the AL East teams is far more compelling given this Cliff Lee business.

For the Yankees, it’s a way of solidifying the lineup while solving their too-many-starting-pitchers problem.  Werth could DH. Or he could take over in right, Swisher could move to left and Gardner could become baseball’s best bench player. Or Swisher could DH. They’re the Yankees. They tend to figure out what to do with excess.

For the Rays and Red Sox it would be more a matter of survival. The Red Sox are taking on all kinds of water right now and could obviously use a big outfield bat to help cover for all of those injuries. The Rays have offensive woes of their own, and if the Yankees get Lee, they’ll need to do something to counter the move.

Like I said yesterday: it would take some serious balls for the Phillies to trade Werth and plug in Domonic Brown as a starter while still contending for the playoffs. But if they can get a strong starting pitcher for Werth — which is something they could really use — they may have no choice.

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.