Jon Heyman reports that Hanley Ramirez — who hits free agency after this season — is seeking a contract in “excess of $130 million” from the Dodgers. Not that he’s going to get it. Or at least not any time soon. Heyman’s source tells him that there is a “significant gap” between Ramirez and the Dodgers at this point.
Ramirez is off to a relatively slow start this season and missed nearly half of last season to injury. But he has been pretty darn good overall, hitting .313/.377/.570 with 25 homers and 13 stolen bases in the 127 games he’s played since the start of last year.
There aren’t a lot of shortstops in that pay grade. Troy Tulowitzki is on a $157 million deal, but he was several years younger than Ramirez is now when he signed it. Same with Elvis Andrus, who signed a $120 million deal with the Rangers. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Stephen Drew: an above average shortstop who was good enough to start for the World Series winner, but who is now currently unemployed. Ramirez is better than him, of course, but the point is that it’s a long way down from one tier to the next in shortstop land.
At the same time, there aren’t a lot of great shortstops out there either, so who knows? Ramirez is going to be hard to predict. His health this season may go a long way in determining if he gets the sort of payday he’s looking for.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.