Mets Snag Ramos
Mets’ general manager Brodie Van Wagenen isn’t taking his time getting acclimated to his new gig, he has jumped in head first. The first-time executive has already swung a major deal with the Mariners to acquire Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz and he also brought Jeurys Familia back to New York to bolster the bullpen. On Sunday, he tackled another of his club’s largest needs entering the 2018 offseason, catcher.
For weeks seemingly, Van Wagenen had his sights set on the top available player at the position, Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto. While the two sides had plenty of discussions on the subject, Van Wagenen ultimately balked at the Marlins’ asking price, which reportedly was to include Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo or Noah Syndergaard as part of the deal.
He also met with Yasmani Grandal, who was considered one of the two big free agent catchers available via free agency this winter. Signing Grandal though would have required draft pick compensation, as he declined a qualifying offer from the Dodgers in mid-November.
Rather than giving up his top prospects to acquire Realmuto, or a highly-coveted draft pick to snare Grandal, Van Wagenen turned instead to Wilson Ramos. As Daniel Alvarez Montes of ElExtraBase first reported on Sunday, the Mets were able to sign Ramos to a very team-friendly two-year, $19 million contract.
Widely considered one of the top offensive performers at his position, Ramos slashed a mighty impressive .306/.358/.487 with 15 homers and 70 RBI in 111 games between the Rays and Phillies in 2018. He’ll slot in somewhere near the middle of the Mets’ lineup and will provide run production that has been lacking from behind the plate.
Andy Martino of SNY reported shortly after the deal was announced that the Mets plan to go into the 2019 season with Ramos and Travis d’Arnaud as their catching tandem. That seemingly indicates that they do not plan to carry three catchers, putting Kevin Plawecki on the outs.
The 27-year-old, who is arbitration-eligible this winter, is out of minor league options. The likeliest scenario now is that the Mets try to deal him elsewhere to get something for him, rather than letting him walk away for nothing. Martino opines that perhaps he could be packaged as part of a deal to bring back a left-handed reliever to fill a major void in the bullpen.
All in the Family
It’s no secret that the White Sox are looking to score big on the free agent market this winter. They have consistently been mentioned as one of the most fervent suitors of both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the two superstar sluggers that are available.
They have long been considered one of the favorites to land one of those two. On Friday, they took a small step towards doing so, making themselves at least a slightly more attractive destination for Machado.
On Friday, the White Sox agreed to acquire first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians in exchange for minor league outfielder Alex Call. On the surface, it was a bit of a head-scratcher, as the White Sox already had Jose Abreu locked in at first base, and the veteran slugger had previously indicated his desire to not serve as a full-time designated hitter.
Looking a bit deeper though, perhaps it’s the family ties that pushed the White Sox to make this move. You see, Alonso, is the brother-in-law of Manny Machado. It’s not the type of thing that will all of a sudden push the White Sox to the forefront of Machado’s list, but it seems like the type of low-key move that could nudge them ahead of a competitor if the bidding winds up being close, all other things being equal.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the White Sox have no intention of trading Jose Abreu, even after acquiring Yonder Alonso from the Indians on Friday. There had already been rumblings that Abreu may have been available, and Friday's acquisition of Alonso seemed to put even more wood on that fire, but perhaps the two can co-exist in Chicago. Alonso is an extremely skilled defender and likely to be the everyday first baseman, which would force Abreu into that full-time DH role,
That means that Daniel Palka, who functioned as the team’s primary designated hitter in 2018, will shift to the outfield. White Sox general manager Rick Hahn says it will be up to manager Rick Renteria whether to put the defensively-challenged Palka in left field or have him come off the bench most days. The 27-year-old batted .240/.294/.484 with 27 home runs and 67 RBI in 417 at-bats this past season as a rookie.
As far as the return for the Indians goes, the main benefit to them is the salary relief that they receive by unloading Alonso’s contract, which the White Sox completely absorbed in the deal. They also picked up minor league outfielder Alex Call. The 24-year-old batted .248/.345/.415 with 12 home runs and 58 RBI in 123 games combined across the Single-A and Double-A levels in 2018. He stole six bases in 13 attempts. He was a third-round draft pick in 2016 by the White Sox.
American League Quick Hits: White Sox outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez is expected to be shut down until spring training after suffering a quad injury in the Dominican Winter League… Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the Astros would like to add at least one or maybe two hitters and have been talking to free agents Nelson Cruz and Michael Brantley… Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Indians' recent payroll-shedding trades have reduced their motivation to trade starting pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer… Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that free agent right-hander Mike Fiers is drawing interest from multiple teams… Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Mets have discussed a possible Nicholas Castellanos trade with the Tigers… The Orioles officially announced the hiring of Brandon Hyde as their new manager on Friday… The Angels officially finalized their one-year, $2.5 million contract with Justin Bour… Matt Chapman had his left shoulder scoped on Friday in what was termed a "minor cleanup procedure". He’ll be able to resume swinging in six weeks and should be ready to go for the start of spring training…
National League Quick Hits: The Padres signed Ian Kinsler to a two-year, $8 million contract to fill their void at second base… According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, the Bravess "do not plan to have any further talks with the Marlins" regarding J.T. Realmuto… Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the Brewers are interested in free agent second baseman Jed Lowrie… John Morosi of MLB Network reports the Reds, Nationals and Braves are interested in free agent starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez… Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Cubs are one of six teams that have been in contact with free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki… Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Phillies are interested in acquiring left-hander Mike Minor from the Rangers… According to Andy Martino of SNY, the Mets continue to show interest in free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal… Diamondbacks signed OF Matt Szczur to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Cardinals pitching prospect Griffin Roberts has been suspended 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse… Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that the Padres have interest in Dallas Keuchel, though his current asking price is said to be prohibitive… Matt Adams returned to the Nationals on a one-year, $4 million contract.