The Phillies are “strong players” for Aramis Ramirez

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Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Phillies are “strong players” for free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Meanwhile, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com confirms that the Phils do indeed have interest.

The most likely scenario is that the Phillies envision Ramirez as a fallback option for their lineup if they are unable to retain free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. They can’t possibly afford both, right? Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote earlier this morning that it appears the Phils’ biggest competition for Rollins may come from the Brewers or Cardinals, though his colleague Jerry Crasnick hears that St. Louis doesn’t plan to pursue him even if they are unable to re-sign Albert Pujols.

Placido Polanco is still owed $6.25 million next season while his contract includes a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. The 36-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued year which limited him to just 122 games, but if the Phils would likely attempt to flip him if they end up signing Ramirez.

It sounds like a Manny Machado deal is all but done

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It occurs to me that maybe one of the reasons for all of the incremental rumors about Manny Machado that I mentioned earlier this morning is that he’s . . . already traded? Basically anyway?

I say this based on the latest report from Olney in which he says that the Orioles have the structure of a Manny Machado trade in place and are “going through the medicals/paperwork portion of the transaction.” He quickly adds that the Dodgers “have been very invested” in pursuing Machado but that “a deal is not finished yet.”

Here’s the actual tweet, since we’re parsing words:

As someone who has read trade rumors like it’s his job for the past decade, mostly because it is his job, here’s what Olney’s tweet says to me (and yes, this is all speculation, but it makes a ton of sense):

1. The Orioles have agreed to trade Machado, probably to the Dodgers since they’re mentioned first, but no one has given Buster the OK to actually report it as a done deal. The “not finished yet” is protection, showing that he didn’t spill the beans, but the mention of the Dodgers is a wink to folks to let them know that, yep, he knows what time it is;

2. They probably haven’t given him the OK to report it as a done deal because they want Machado to appear in the All-Star Game as an Oriole;

3. The second he’s removed from the game tonight, the news goes public. Or, if MLB is putting its finger on the scale and doesn’t want to distract from the All-Star Game, the second the game is over. Personally, though, if I was MLB I’d let the news come out during the game because people will stay tuned to wait for it.

Anyway, like I said, speculation. But I feel like it’s right.