OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Athletics are open to signing slugger Manny Ramirez but the team is not actively pursuing the free agent.
That was the message Sunday from assistant general manager David Forst, who talked during A’s Fanfest held at the Oakland Arena, next door to the Coliseum. A’s owner Lew Wolff had suggested the move last week.
“We’re open to it,” Forst said. “We do have other things going on and we do expect other additions between now and opening day. We have never been in a situation where we had too many good players.”
Ramirez applied for reinstatement to Major League Baseball last month. He was suspended for 100 games last year but the ban was trimmed to 50 because he sat out nearly all of last season. The suspension would start with the first game he is eligible to play after signing with a club.
“I think it would be fun,” Wolff said. “This should be viewed on the basis of talent. Once he’s served the penalty he should be free to do what he wants. I don’t know what kind of shape he’s in, though I hear he’s in great shape.”
Ramirez, who will be 40 on May 30, ranks 14th on the career list with 555 home runs. He was 1 for 17 (.059) in five games last season for Tampa Bay, which had signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.02 million. He retired from baseball rather than serve his longer suspension.
“I never actually met him,” A’s outfielder Josh Reddick said. “But to have a veteran hitter like Manny? That experience can only help us. We’re a young team and I would look forward to a guy like that, a guy we can learn from.”
Reddick was in the Red Sox organization when Ramirez was traded from Boston to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2008. He made his major league debut with the Red Sox exactly one year later.
Reddick said Ramirez left “an interesting” legacy behind.
NOTES: Wolff also expressed some impatience with Major League Baseball’s study committee about the A’s planned move to a new stadium site in San Jose. “We should be in it now instead of waiting for it,” he said. “It’s hard to be patient when it has hurt us everywhere. The only site available to us based on our analysis is the downtown site in San Jose.” … Wolff joked that his grandson no longer speaks to him because of the trade that sent Gio Gonzalez, his favourite player, to the Washington Nationals. … Forst also denied reports that signing Jonny Gomes doomed OF prospects Michael Taylor and Chris Carter to the minors. “That is not true,” he said. “There is a fifth outfield spot and the DH spot. They have an opportunity to be on the 25-man roster.” … A’s manager Bob Melvin said he sees Gomes, Reddick, Seth Smith and Coco Crisp as part of a rotation for the outfield and included Collin Cowgill as a possible candidate for the fifth spot. … The Fanfest drew over 7,000 people.