MLB confirms Manny Ramirez banned from playing winter ball

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Confirming reports from earlier this week, MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that Manny Ramirez is indeed banned from participating in an MLB-sanctioned winter ball league.

Ramirez had planned to play in the Dominican Republic, but to do so he’d have to get permission from Bud Selig and … well, that ain’t happening after he retired in April rather than serve a 100-game suspension.

Ramirez previously told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he was “really interested and enthusiastic” about playing winter ball and “it would be really sad if I’m not allowed to play.”

If he wants to continue playing at age 39 it’ll have to be in a lesser, non-MLB affiliated winter ball league or perhaps for an independent league team next season. There’s probably an opening on the Jose Canseco-managed Yuma Scorpions.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.