Manny Ramirez signs a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers

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It’s on like Donkey Kong. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that The Rangers have signed Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal:

According to a major league source, the club has agreed to a deal with 41-year-old Manny Ramirez on a minor league deal. Ramirez, who recently left a Taiwanese team to give himself another shot at returning to the majors for the first time since 2011, will report to Triple-A Round Rock. Rangers club officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Ramirez raked in Taiwan, finishing his short stint there near the top of the league in batting average, homers, RBIs and walks. He was also a tremendous gate and television attraction. Ironically, interest in Manny Ramirez helped save baseball in Taiwan following a series of scandals in that country’s league.

But Taiwan is generally considered to be on-par with, maybe, single-A ball. In 2012 he struggled in Triple-A for the Athletics and then was released after 17 games. He has not played in the majors since a short, unsuccessful stint with the Rays in 2011 which ended with a drug suspension. His 2010 season was marred by another drug suspension. It’s kinda doubtful that he’s going to be a real contributor to a major league team, let alone a good one like the Rangers.

But now, the odds against him be damned, he has a chance to make it back to the bigs. And we all get to take the ride with Manny one more time.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.