It’s cute watching Mike Rizzo pretend to play tough with Scott Boras over Prince Fielder

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Fact: Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals have been Scott Boras’ huckleberry for a few years now. Nothing wrong with that. They’ve signed some great guys by being willing to play ball with Boras in ways that some teams have chosen not to. But it is pretty obvious that if Boras has a big name, Rizzo is going to be interested.

Fact: Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals are rumored to be the front runners for Scott Boras client Prince Fielder.

Fact: Mike Rizzo is obligated to at least attempt to drive a hard bargain about it all, so he says stuff like this:

“We feel we have a good first baseman in Adam LaRoche. We feel he’s 100 percent healthy and when he’s 100 percent we’re going to get the 25 home runs, 85-100 RBI and great defense at first base. We’re committed to him. We also have a backup plan at first base with Mike Morse. We feel that we’re settled at that position.”

That’s well and good. What else can he say?  “Man, oh, man! Can’t wait to sign Prince! Hope Scotty lets us!!”  But it doesn’t really convince me. Does it convince you?

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.