Friday, January 21, 2011

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Manny, Damon Sign; Angels-Jays Trade | Baseball Digest

BD Hot Stove Breaking News: Manny, Damon Sign; Angels-Jays Trade | Baseball Digest

A very dormant period in the hot stove heated up Friday evening. The Tampa Bay Rays announced they had agreed on one year deals with both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that, pending physicals, the Los Angeles Angels are set to send catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for long time centerfielder Vernon Wells.

The Wells became an immediate candidate to be traded once the larger portion of the seven year contract extension he signed in 2006 kicked in. Whereas Wells made $12.5M in 2010, his salary jumps to $23M for 2011. He’s then set to receive $21M in each of the next three seasons (2012-2014) of the contract. In a bit of stunning move, the Angels are going to pick up the remaining $86M owed the outfielder.

Wells was a four tool player that provided All-Star type seasons from 2002-2006 with major offensive output and Gold Glove defense. But injuries took their toll, leading to missed games, a loss of power, and a drop off in his overall offensive game. He bounced back last season with 31 home runs and the Blue Jays had to have realized there would never be a better time to try to deal him.

Napoli, 29, is one of the best power hitting catchers in baseball, having averaged 22 home runs the last three seasons. However, he is ranked at the bottom of major league catchers in defense. He will provide a veteran presence for the Jays and help stud catching prospect J.P. Arencibia break into the majors. Napoli made $3.6M last season and is arbitration eligible this season.

Rivera has been with the Angels since 2005 and is a ten year veteran. The 32-yr old will provide the Jays with depth in the outfield, 1st base and DH, and as well as some additional power. He’s in the final year of a three year deal that will pay him $5.25M.

After spending over 14 seasons in Cleveland (7) and Boston (7+) combined, Ramirez is with his fourth team in the last four years. He’s coming off a season in which, due to mounting injuries, he appeared in just 66 games with the Dodgers and 24 with the White Sox. He was productive (.915 OPS) in LA, but the organization grew weary of him and put him on waivers in late August. Chicago claimed him and the LA said, “you can have him”. He was basically useless with the White Sox and was having trouble finding a taker this off-season. Ramirez will reportedly on receive $2M from the Rays to be their primary designated hitter for a year. Ramirez, who will turn 39 in May, will enter the season with 555 career home runs.

Damon will be playing with his third team in the AL East (Boston, NYY) and signed a one year, $5.25M deal. There’s another $700K in incentives included. Damon should see some time in left field due to the departure of Carl Crawford and will get some ABs at DH as he reunites with Ramirez. Damon, 37, started out like a house afire with the Tigers last April, hitting .329 with 12 RBI, nine doubles, and a triple. But he slumped for much of the remainder of the season, finishing with the second lowest OPS (.756) of his last seven seasons.

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