Hanley Ramirez signs minor-league deal with Cleveland
It really felt like Hanley Ramirez’ time in the majors may be done, despite showing some signs for a month last season and a clear hope to come back given his play in the Dominican this winter. By all accounts he was ready to be back in the league after not playing following his release from the Red Sox in late May. There hadn’t been any word on teams being interested in him this winter, but that ended late Saturday night when the news broke. Cleveland had signed the slugger to a minor-league deal. Ramirez isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, of course, and he’ll have to show some consistency in camp in order to make the roster. That being said, there is a role available to him as a platoon bat at first base and/or DH, as the newly acquired Jake Bauers isn’t great against lefties. As an unabashed Hanley lover, I certainly hope he can make it work, particularly on that roster since a Ramirez/Terry Francona combination in the dugout could be great entertainment.
Jose Iglesias signs minor-league deal with Reds
Ramirez wasn’t the only old friend to sign a minor-league deal with a team based in Ohio on Saturday. Earlier in the day, former Red Sox shortstop prospect and longtime Tigers shortstop signed a minor-league deal with the Reds. This one seems patently absurd. Not that Iglesias found a team, of course, but that he had to settle for a minor-league deal seems crazy to me. Iglesias clearly isn’t a superstar or anything close to it, and though you could make the argument he’s easily an MLB regular on a certain team he’s better off coming off the bench. It’s crazy that he’s not guaranteed a major-league spot as soon as he signs a contract. Iglesias is one of the very best defensive shortstops in the league and he’s not enough bad enough at the plate to be unusable. According to Fangraphs’ WAR, he’s been worth two wins (the general benchmark for an average MLB starter) in three of the last five years including last year and has never been worth less than 1.5 wins. That’s not a minor-league deal kind of player.
A Bryce Harper update
We can’t talk about free agency right now without briefly mentioning Bryce Harper. The saga could be coming to a close soon, as Phillies owner John Middleton travelled out to Las Vegas this weekend to meet with the star outfielder. Bob Nightengale says there is optimism that they’ll reach a 10-year deal by Monday.