Not so long ago Max Ramirez was headed to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell, but Lowell’s injuries squashed that trade and Ramirez’s stock has been in a free fall ever since.
This winter the Red Sox claimed him off waivers from the Rangers only to lose him on waivers to the Cubs a couple weeks later, and the Cubs outright released Ramirez last week. Today the Astros signed him to a minor-league deal.
That’s quite a fall for a catcher who hit .347 with power between Double-A and Triple-A in 2008 and is still just 26 years old, but Ramirez was never considered an asset defensively behind the plate and he’s missed time with injuries while failing to produce offensively since then. Still, not a bad low-cost, no-risk pickup for the Astros.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.