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.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.