Aramis Ramirez became a free agent by declining his half of a $16 million mutual option and when asked about the third baseman’s odds of re-signing with the Cubs new team president Theo Epstein replied: “Likely he’ll be moving on.”
Not a big surprise, certainly, but prior to Epstein taking over there was some thought that the Cubs would make an effort to re-sign Ramirez on the open market.
Chicago can safely offer Ramirez arbitration knowing he won’t accept, in which case the Type B free agent would bring back a supplemental first-round pick if he signs elsewhere.
Ramirez is 33 years old and pretty questionable defensively at third base, but he’s one of the top bats on the market after hitting .306 with 26 homers and an .871 OPS in 149 games this season. Last season was the only time in the past eight years that Ramirez failed to top an .850 OPS.
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.