The Cubs snag backup catcher Max Ramirez from the Red Sox and it probably doesn’t matter

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Five days ago the Red Sox claimed backup catcher Max Ramirez from the Rangers. They’d wanted him since a trade of Mike Lowell for him fell through last year.  Guess they didn’t want him too bad, though, because they waived him today when they signed Hideki Okajima. The Cubs have now claimed Ramirez.

For anyone wanted to really plumb the depths of this move, please read McCovey Chronicles’ take on backup catchers from last week. Bonus: it was even about Max Ramirez.  Their take on him, in a nutshell: even if he’s a highly sought-after backup, he’s fundamentally interchangeable with every other backup catcher out there over the course of 150 plate appearances or so. His quality only matters if he’s going to fill in for the starter for a long time.  But, if your starter is someone as good as Buster Posey, your season is probably a lost cause anyway if he goes down, and that’s the case no matter how nice your backup is.

Geovany Soto isn’t as good as Buster Posey. But he’s good enough that, if he’s out for an extended time, the Cubs are kinda screwed. Whether the backup is Joe Schmo, Max Ramirez or the Molinas’ second cousin doesn’t really matter.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.