That time Manny Ramirez nearly became a Met

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In a column for Newsday, David Lennon details how former major leaguer and current Cubs batting instructor Manny Ramirez nearly came to the Mets in a trade. In 2005, then-GM of the Mets Omar Minaya came “within a few hours” of securing Ramirez in a trade with the Red Sox.

The Mets tried to get the Rays involved as a third team in a deal, but they backed out when they realized they wouldn’t be able to get then-prospect Hanley Ramirez from the Red Sox. In the final hours, Lennon details, the Mets thought they had cinched a deal which would have sent Lastings Milledge and Mike Cameron to Boston, but talks fell apart hours ahead of the 4 PM EST deadline on July 31.

Jim Duquette, Minaya’s VP of baseball operations in 2005, said of the negotiations:

“We weren’t able to match up and give them enough,” Duquette said. “They were looking for more younger players in return. We wanted them to give more money. We weren’t going to take the full freight on that one. I don’t think they thought Milledge was the right guy. That’s why we were trying to bring in a third team.”

Ramirez ultimately stayed in Boston for another few seasons until he was traded to the Dodgers in a three-team trade also involving the Pirates at the trade deadline in 2008.

It’s interesting to think how different things might have been if Ramirez had gone to the Mets in 2005.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.