As expected, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Aramis Ramirez formally announced his retirement. Ramirez had said prior to the 2015 season that it would be his last in the majors, and he told Dominican news outlet Grandes en los Deportes on Thursday that he plans to end his career by spring training. Ramirez, 37, also said he hopes to remain in shape for one last tour through the Dominican Winter League with los Tigres del Licey.
Ramirez added that he doesn't see himself transitioning into coaching or managing, but that he does hope for a front office role in the future. He specifically referenced Moises Alou's role with the San Diego Padres as a special assistant to the team’s player development staff.
Over his 18-year major league career, Ramirez batted .283/.341/.492 with 386 home runs, 495 doubles, 1098 runs scored and 1417 RBIs. While he wasn't praised for his defensive work at third base, he retires with the seventh-most homers of all time among third basemen. During his time with the Chicago Cubs, Ramirez was a two-time All Star before circling back in poetic fashion to finish his career in Pittsburgh with the club that signed him.
Here is the other buzz making its way around the majors:
Pirates: In more news from Pittsburgh, the Pirates announced on Twitter that they've declined a club option on righty Radhames Liz, thereby making him a free agent. Prior to his 2015 season with the Pirates, Liz, 32, hadn't made a major league appearance since 2009. Since then, Liz bounced around the minor leagues before enjoying a successful three years in Korea. This season, Liz didn't pitch quite as well as he and the Pirates had hoped, logging a 4.24 ERA through 23 1/3 innings. He did, however, average a blazing 94.7 mph fastball and draw enough whiffs to attract modest interest on the market this winter.
Seattle Mariners: GM Jerry Dipoto told ESPN’s Buster Olney that he'll turn primarily to the trade market to target on-base percentage upgrades. Dipoto's remarks corroborate suspicion that Dipoto is unlikely to sign a blockbuster free agent this offseason in pursuit of bullpen support and improvements behind the plate and in center field. Instead, expect craftiness on the trade market and perhaps a cheap talent or two via free agency that the Mariners can develop.
Baltimore Orioles: With Chris Davis now a free agent, the Orioles must find a potential replacement at first base. That could include bringing over Byung-ho Park from Korea. According to MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, the O's have "watched him play several times over the last few years" and could hold interest in signing the slugger. The KBO League's Nexen Heroes posted Park on Monday, which gives teams until Friday to submit bids. Park, 29, clubbed 105 homers over the past two seasons in the KBO and could soften the blow of Davis' departure. The catch, however, is that only the team with the winning bid (maximum $20 million) may negotiate with Park. If Baltimore clings to hopes that it can work out a deal with Chris Davis, that could prevent the team from bidding heavily on Park, though it's widely believed that Davis will sign elsewhere.
Los Angeles Angels: The Angels need to reach a decision on third baseman David Freese by Friday. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange Country Register notes that if the Angels extend the $15.8 million qualifying offer and Freese accepts, the Halos will overpay him for a year and new GM Billy Eppler will have limited breathing room under the $26 million luxury tax threshold. On the flip side, there are no better options at third base available via free agency. In order to land a suitable replacement, Eppler would have to deal one of his few trade chips. The safest bet here would be to avoid extending the offer in the first place, but Fletcher reports that the front office is mulling the possibility with the hope that Freese rejects the offer and the Angels end up with a compensation draft pick.
Texas Rangers: In coaching news, the Rangers will hire the Houston Astros' Doug Brocail as their new pitching coach, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Brocail, 48, was a part of the Rangers' bullpen for two seasons during his major league career. More recently, he served as Houston's pitching coach from 2011-13 and has been a part of the organization's front office since 2010. Brocail interviewed with the Rangers last week following the team's split with Mike Maddux. It's important to note that while the Rangers have offered the position to Brocail, the contracts have yet to be finalized.