Hanley Ramirez won his first National League batting titled in 2009, compiling a career-high .342 batting average over 652 plate appearances. He finished second in NL MVP voting behind Albert Pujols and just ahead of Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, but on Saturday got his own little piece of hardware.
According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria handed the young shortstop a diamond-studded “.342” necklace yesterday outside of the Marlins’ spring clubhouse. It was a total shock for Ramirez, who expressed his gratitude after receiving the flashy gift:
“I’m gonna save it in my safe,” said Ramirez, who wore the necklace out
of the ballpark after Saturday’s game. “Once in a while I’m going to
wear it. Every time I see that I’m going to remember Jeffrey.”
It’s a wonderful story, but here’s the best part: On April 9, the Marlins’ home opener against the Dodgers, 5,000 replica necklaces will be handed out to fans. Sure beats a magnetic calendar.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.