Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that the Athletics were “likely” to sign Manny Ramirez just before or soon after the start of spring training, so the following information should come as no real surprise.
According to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press, the Athletics still have “strong interest” in Ramirez and could reach an agreement on a contract as soon as the next few days or sometime next week.
If a deal is reached, McCauley writes that the 39-year-old would receive a contract for “slightly more than the league minimum of $480,000.” It’s not clear whether this would be as part of a guaranteed major-league deal or a minor-league deal. Just speculating, but it’s possible some other performance-based incentives would be included.
Ramirez would be eligible to participate during Cactus League action, but he would have to sit out the first 50 games of the regular season as he serves a suspension for his second positive PED test. Barring any rainouts, he could make his A’s debut as soon as June 2 against the Royals.
The Yankees and Pirates have agreed to a deal that will send A.J. Burnett and cash considerations to the Pirates for Double-A reliever Diego Moreno and Low-A outfielder Exicardo Cayones, but it turns out there was another team in the mix. A”mystery team,” if you will. And this one might surprise you.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Phillies were involved in talks for Burnett before a deal was finally reached with Pittsburgh. This probably never had a realistic chance of happening, as the Phillies would have had to find a home for Joe Blanton (likely paying part of his $8.5 million salary) in order to make a deal work. No takers, apparently.
I’d rather have Burnett than Blanton at this point, but adding another $8 million to the payroll for 2013 (like the Pirates will do) when the Phillies already have approximately $108 million committed might not have been the best idea for a team who is hoping to work out an extension with Cole Hamels. They need all the flexibility they can get.
The big takeaway here is that the Phillies are looking to trade Blanton and currently seek an upgrade for their rotation. Blanton was limited to just 41 1/3 innings last season due to an elbow injury, so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to unload him unless he can prove healthy and effective during spring training. Of course, Roy Oswalt will probably sign somewhere by then, so it’s unclear where an upgrade would come from. But Ruben Amaro, Jr. has a habit of surprising us.
Tim Wakefield just officially announced his retirement and it appears as though his longtime teammate Jason Varitek is finally close to making a decision about his future.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was told by a friend of Varitek as the Wakefield presser that the veteran backstop is leaning toward retirement.
Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald earlier today that his client has “not made any decisions yet” about his plans for this season. Still, with Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington saying earlier this evening that he doesn’t anticipate making any additions prior to the start of camp, all signs are pointing in the direction of retirement.
Varitek, who turns 40 in April, batted .221/.300/.423 with 11 home runs, 36 RBI and a .723 OPS over 68 games last season. The three-time All-Star owns a .256/.341/.435 lifetime batting line over major league 15 seasons to go along with 193 career home runs and 757 RBI.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman indicates that the Yankees have agreements with left-handed hitters Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez that will be finalized after the A.J. Burnett deal is approved by the league.
The Yankees looked at picking up a left-handed option at DH in a Burnett trade and reportedly had a deal done for Bobby Abreu, only to have Burnett reject the trade to Anaheim. They also showed interest in Garrett Jones in talks with Pittsburgh and in Cleveland’s Travis Hafner.
However, since those plans fell through, Ibanez appears set to get the gig. He’ll likely start at DH against most right-handers and take a seat in favor of Andruw Jones against lefties. The Yankees also figure to have Alex Rodriguez and other starters DH once in a while.
Ibanez, 39, hit .245/.289/.419 for the Phillies last season. It was his worst campaign since 2000, but he did play somewhat better after a brutal April. For what little it’s worth, he’s gone 7-for-23 with two homers and two doubles in six games at new Yankee Stadium.
Chavez will be re-signing with the Yankees after hitting .263/.320/.356 in 160 at-bats last season. His inclusion should complete the bench, which will also include Jones, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli. Barring an injury, there won’t be any room for outfielders Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell or infielder Ramiro Pena.