Big news: Major League Baseball just announced that Manny Ramirez has retired. Major League Baseball said that his retirement came after he was told of “an issue” with the drug treatment and prevention program. The statement:
“Major League Baseball recently notified Manny Ramirez of an issue under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Rather than continue with the process under the Program, Ramirez has informed MLB that he is retiring as an active player. If Ramirez seeks reinstatement in the future, the process under the Drug Program will be completed. MLB will not have any further comment on this matter.”
Since the report of his retirement came out it has been confirmed by multiple sources that Ramirez failed a drug test during spring training. Thus his retirement preempts a mandatory 100-game suspension.
Manny was 1 for 17 for the Rays this year. This was preceded by competing talk over the winter in which most people doubted Ramirez’s motivation in light of his meager contract while some — this writer included — thought that he felt he had something to prove to himself or baseball. The drug situation obviously impacts this in a completely different way.
I’m assuming we’ll get an official statement from Ramirez or his agent soon. We’ll update as we learn more.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.