With no true right handed designated hitter on their spring training roster, the Orioles are evidently serious about taking a gamble on the ultimate wild card, 39-year old twice-suspended-banned-substance-user Manny Ramirez.
The Orioles current right handed designated hitter options include left-fielder Nolan Reimold and 3B/1B Mark Reynolds. The club isn’t expected to re-sign Vlad Guerrero, who joined the club last February and produced a so-so campaign in 2011.
A Major League baseball source tells WNST.net that Orioles Vice President Dan Duquette has “discussed a deal” with Ramirez and his agent and that the Orioles were “among the most interested teams” in the days following his work-out for various major league teams last month.
“It’s complicated because of his (50-game) suspension and some of the guarantees that go along with a contract for a player of his tenure,” says the source . “But Duquette seems unfazed by that. He likes Manny. In a perfect world, he’d sign Manny. But it’s not that easy because of the issues.”
The issues, of course, include a brief 5-game journey with the Tampa Bay Rays last spring that ended in disgrace when Ramirez suddenly quit the team and later tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended by MLB for 100 games. That suspension has since been reduced to 50 games after Ramirez “retired” last April.
The source says the Toronto Blue Jays were also among the teams most interested in Ramirez after his January work-out and that playing for a team in the AL East is a priority for the former Red Sox slugger.
“He still has friends and family in New York, he enjoyed Boston immensely and nothing would make Manny happier than finishing his career in the East where he gets the chance to go back to those places he enjoyed playing in and prove to those teams and their fans that what happened in Tampa Bay was a fluke,” the MLB source stated.
The source said Duquette initiated the contract discussion shortly after last month’s workout, hoping to get a jump on any other teams that might be interested. “Dan put those feelers out right away, but Manny was impressive enough that a couple of other clubs also made contact.”
It’s believed that Oakland, Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland expressed an interest in Ramirez.
“Someone will have to take a major gamble on Manny because of his history,” the source concludes. “It’s not going to be an easy contract to complete because of all the complications. But if Duquette really wants him, he can probably get him.”