MLB Rumors: Manny Ramirez Swimming with the Fish...Er, Tampa Bay Rays?
Millions of dollars have been dished out in new contracts this offseason, but Manny Ramirez still hasn't seen a single cent. The 38-year-old slugger remains a free agent and his list of suitors is dwindling.
This is not the same Manny that once terrorized pitchers. After all, he only hit nine home runs last season after playing in only 90 games. His power numbers and average are down, and he's even more of a defensive liability now than he was just a few years ago.
Still, this is Manny Ramirez we're talking about—one of the best right-handed hitters in the history of the game. His OPS hasn't fallen below .870 since he broke through with the Cleveland Indians, and his on-base percentage has stayed above .400 each of the last three seasons.
There are any number of teams that would have been happy to welcome Manny to their club, but the price tag has remained high. If Scott Boras' demands come down, here are 10 teams that may come calling for the slugger's services.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were considered one of the favorites to land the slugger, but they may be out of the bidding after inking free agent Edwin Encarnacion to a one-year, $2.5 million deal to be their full-time designated hitter.
Ramirez is certainly still a better hitter than Encarnacion, so if the price is right and the Blue Jays aren't happy with Encarnacion, then they could make another play for Manny.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays still need to find a first baseman to replace Carlos Pena, and depending on who they sign, they may need a new designated hitter too.
Willy Aybar was a disaster as a DH for the Rays in 2010, batting only .230 and slugging only .344. Tampa needs all its dollars to retool the bullpen, but anything they have left over could be definitely be used on Ramirez.
Luke Scott did a good job as Baltimore's DH in 2010, launching 27 homers and sporting a .902 OPS. The Orioles have the option of putting Scott at first and making a player like Ramirez their DH, but they may go another route with their hole at first.
Scott is the only remaining Baltimore hitter with 20 home run power. The Orioles have the makings of a decent team, but they need more production out of their offense. Ramirez may be the answer.
The Twins would love to have Jim Thome back as their DH (1.039 OPS in 2010), but the two sides may not be able to come to an agreement.
Ramirez would be a more than suitable replacement for his former teammate from his Cleveland Indian days.
Kansas City Royals
The Royals seem to think that Billy Butler can be their full-time DH. He's a good enough hitter, with an .857 OPS last season and 45 doubles. But there's no guarantee that Kansas City won't continue its fire sale and trade off Butler too.
The Royals seem to love taking chances on veteran players to keep the team respectable while it builds (see Jose Guillen), and Ramirez would definitely fit that bill. He could also be a positive factor in mentoring Kansas City's many young hitters.
Johnny Damon is gone and even if Magglio Ordonez is able to stay healthy enough to be the full-time designated hitter, the Tigers may still be able to find a place for Ramirez.
After Miguel Cabrera, Detroit doesn't have a single other player with a .850 OPS or 20-home run power. Even if Ramirez starts the year on the bench, he'll find enough at-bats with the Tigers to keep him busy.
Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
The Angels need all sorts of help. They lost out on Carl Crawford and now they may not even be able to get Adrian Beltre. They need someone who can hit the ball and Ramirez definitely fits the bill.
Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreau could both be candidates for DH, but then someone still needs to play the outfield. The Angels don't normally go after one-dimensional players like Ramirez, but they may need to make an exception considering what else is out there.
The Mariners were the most offensively challenged team in all of baseball last season. The only player who got his OPS above .800 is Russell Branyan. But after Branyan and Ichiro, the rest of the lineup was a disaster.
Ramirez would be an immediate upgrade, but it's hard to see Seattle spending the dollars to sign him when the team is nowhere close to the playoffs.
The defending AL champions would love to have Vladimir Guerrero and his 29 home runs back, but thus far, nothing is imminent.
Ramirez and Guerrero are very similar players at this point in their careers, so substituting one for the other makes a lot of sense.
A main reason why Manny Ramirez is still unsigned is because there are too many available players with the same skill set. Ramirez may be the biggest name, but general managers aren't exactly stumbling over each other trying to sign him.
Here's a quick breakdown of the other designated hitters on the market.
- Jim Thome: He's 40, but as he showed last season, he can still rake. Will probably keep playing till he gets to 600 career home runs.
- Vladimir Guerrero: People thought Guerrero was done a few years ago, but he manages to hang around. He's still one of the better hitters in the game.
- Johnny Damon: At 37, he could probably still play the outfield, which makes him an option for NL teams.
- Eric Chavez: He hasn't been good in years but he's only 33 and, if healthy, might be an option in the infield. Some team will take a chance on him.
- Nick Johnson: You know what you're getting with him, but it's not a whole lot anymore. He's a better fit for a team that's OK with only average power from their DH.
- Russell Branyan: He was Seattle's best hitter last season, but that's not saying much. The 35-year-old has been around and probably has a couple of seasons left in him.