Hanley Ramirez likes Jose Reyes just fine, but he’s made it clear that he sees himself as a shortstop. With the Marlins now reportedly having landed Reyes, Ramirez is going to be asked to change positions, probably to third base. How that plays with Hanley could well determine the course of the Marlins franchise for these next few years.
Make no mistake: Ramirez is an even more dynamic player than Reyes. He finished sixth in the NL in OPS in both 2008 and 2009. Reyes has never finished in the top 10. Adjusting for position, he placed second in the NL in offensive WAR in 2008 and ’09 and third in 2007. Reyes came in third last season, but his next highest finish with ninth in 2006. Overall, Ramirez is a career .306/.380/.506 hitter. Reyes, the older of the two players by a few months, comes in at .292/.341/.441.
Ramirez, though, has fallen far these last two years, and while Reyes has long battled leg injuries, Ramirez has struggled to overcome shoulder problems. After playing in at least 150 games each of his first four seasons, Ramirez dropped to 142 games in 2010 and 92 games during his extremely disappointing 2011 season.
If Ramirez goes to third base quietly and resumes playing more like he did three years ago, the Marlins will suddenly have one of the league’s most potent lineups:
CF Emilio Bonifacio
RF Mike Stanton
1B Gaby Sanchez
LF Logan Morrison
C John Buck
2B Omar Infante
If Ramirez instead sulks and forces his way out, the Marlins aren’t likely to get nearly the return he would have brought as one of the game’s three most valuable properties in 2009. Oh, there will be offers: the Red Sox and Tigers would be crazy not to bid and the Brewers could try to cobble together an offer from what’s left of their minor league system. But the Marlins have a much better chance of finding their way back to the postseason with Ramirez and Reyes together than with Reyes and whatever Ramirez brings in return. Hopefully for them, Ramirez grows up a little, embraces the Marlins’ new commitment to winning and tries to become the best third baseman he can be. If it goes the other way, then the team isn’t likely to contend just yet.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.
Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.
Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.
As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.
Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe …
Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.
Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.
Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.
Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.
Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.
His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …
It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?
Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.
Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.
Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.
Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.