Should the Dodgers move Hanley Ramirez to third base?

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Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles makes the case that the Dodgers should move shortstop Hanley Ramirez over to third base. Citing the advanced defensive metrics — though without the necessary warning of a small sample size — Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, Saxon points out that Ramirez grades out poorly through the first two months of the season, at -10 and -6.9, respectively.

The Dodgers lost third baseman Juan Uribe to a hamstring injury last week and he may be out a while longer still. Saxon suggests Ramirez could take over for Uribe at third base while Erisbel Arruebarrena (and, later, Alex Guerrero) could grab the everyday shortstop job.

Ramirez, 30, is in the final year of a six-year, $70 million contract extension signed with the Marlins back in May 2008. He can become a free agent after the season. Recent reports indicate that he is seeking an extension in excess of $130 million to stay with the Dodgers. In 219 plate appearances this season, Ramirez is slashing .245/.324/.434 with seven home runs and 26 RBI.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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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.