White Sox reportedly planning waiver claim on Manny Ramirez

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com wrote this morning that “claiming Manny Ramirez off waivers would be nuts.” And now he’s reporting that the White Sox plan to place a waiver claim on Ramirez.
General manager Ken Williams and the White Sox were said to be interested in Ramirez prior to the July 31 trade deadline, so Chicago’s apparent willingness to take what now amounts to little more than a $4 million flier on the 38-year-old slugger certainly isn’t surprising. Or particularly crazy, despite what Rosenthal suggests.
Ramirez certainly isn’t the dominant offensive force he once was and has also been limited to just 62 games because of injuries, but if reasonably healthy he’s still a damn good bat. He’s hit .312/.404/.508 overall this season, which is good for a .912 OPS that ranks seventh among all MLB outfielders with at least 200 plate appearances.
Beyond that, the White Sox’s have a gaping hole at designated hitter caused by the misguided decision not to re-sign Jim Thome at manager Ozzie Guillen’s urging this offseason. Thome has been amazing for the Twins with a .269/.393/.583 mark that tops the measly .237/.308/.401 cumulative production from the White Sox’s designated hitters by 267 points of OPS.
Ramirez can’t get back the production and games lost by choosing to replace Thome with Mark Kotsay, but his still-powerful right-handed bat would fit very well into the White Sox’s lineup and by using him primarily at DH they could cross “defense” off the list of potential issues.
Of course, just because the White Sox are planning to place a waiver claim on Ramirez doesn’t mean a team in front of them won’t do the same, and even if Chicago ends up with the winning claim they’d still have to work out a deal for him unless the Dodgers are simply willing to give him away to save money.
As usual, Ken Williams has plenty of gamble in him.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.