Last week Aramis Ramirez explained that he’ll be looking for a multi-year contract as a free agent if the Cubs do as expected and decline his $16 million option for next season and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins figure to be one of his strongest suitors.
Frisaro calls Ramirez “one of the more realistic big names that clearly is on the Marlins’ radar” and speculates that they envision an infield with Ramirez at third base, Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Omar Infante at second base, and Gaby Sanchez at first base.
Of course, Frisaro also writes that “Ramirez would bring an established defensive presence” and he’s pretty terrible defensively, posting a below average Ultimate Zone Rating in each of the past four seasons.
Matt Dominguez has been viewed as the Marlins’ long-term answer at third base. He may not be quite MLB-ready yet, but certainly would be before a two- or three-year deal for the 33-year-old Ramirez expired.
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.