Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon were formally introduced by the Rays today. They had a press conference. It sounds like it was a laugh riot. Highlights, taken from this WEEI report and Marc Topkin’s Twitter feed:
- At the outset Manny smiled and said “we’re back!”
- Manny did not put on his Rays cap because he said it did not fit over his hair.
- Manny called Joe Maddon “the coach.” When asked about the lineup, Manny said he can hit anywhere because he had 5 triples in 1998.
- Manny said that he was not at all about the money but rather he was out to prove himself now and that’s all the motivation he needed. I want to believe him — and I am prepared to admit that even Manny has pride — but every single writer who has ever covered they guy is questioning his motivation with a low contract right now. Not just the normal hater-types. This will be interesting to watch.
- After being given number 24 by the Rays he said that he didn’t have a problem not being 99 because 99 is his National League number and 24 is his American League number. I’m actually going to suspend my disbelief about this and acknowledge that Manny may very well have thought this up when he was a teenager and that it was always his plan. To do this, I’ll forget that he wore 99 with the White Sox last year.
- Damon called Manny “one of greatest hitters of our generation.” Manny said “thank you Johnny.”
- Each player was asked about their physical shape. Manny flexed and pointed to his bicep. Damon said that they could either look in mirror and flex or “we can go in shower and compete there.”
- Damon said that the Rays are his “Dream Team.” No word if he admitted that he really didn’t like that octopus up in Detroit last year or if his happiness winning World Series rings in Boston and New York was a big sham. I’m totally convinced at this point that he could get signed by the Carolina Mudcats and he’d say “I always wanted to play here.”
- Manny said he had been working out with Evan Longoria and that “I’m trying to help him find his cap.”
- Joe Maddon said about Johnny and Manny: “I just want them to be themselves.”
They’re way ahead of you Joe.
Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.
Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.
Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.
Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.
Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.
Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.
Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.
Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.
Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.