Rumors now swirl around Hanley, JJ

MIAMI — Whether Hanley Ramirez remains with the Marlins through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline could come down to what the 28-year-old shows on the field this week.

The subject of trade speculation, Ramirez is back in the lineup on Tuesday after missing four straight starts due to inflammation in his right hand.

After trading Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Tigers on Monday, the Marlins remain open for business on the trade front.

Ramirez has emerged as a prime target. The trouble is, he hasn’t played in a few days, and scouts haven’t been able to look at the former three-time All-Star more closely.

The Red Sox and A’s are reportedly interested.

Boston could be a fit, because it is the organization that Ramirez broke in with. While Ramirez switched to third base this year, he could go back to playing shortstop. Or he could be used as a designated hitter on occasion.

Ramirez is a close friend of David Ortiz, who could be a positive influence.

While the Marlins trimmed about $8 million off their payroll with Monday’s trade, the team could be looking to trim more.

An MLB source said that the Marlins haven’t indicated they are looking to dump big contracts. Still, the team’s attendance in their first year at Marlins Park is lower than projected.

The Opening Day figure is $101,628,000, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts web site. It was a more modest $57,695,000 in 2011. Attendance has been solid, at 28,000, but the team was hopeful to be averaging about 34,000.

With the team being a long shot to reach the playoffs, management is opening to making deals.

The one untouchable is Giancarlo Stanton. Let’s put that to rest.

It’s also extremely doubtful the club would move Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.

Reyes, even in a down year, plays a premium position, and he’s in his prime. He’s riding a 12-game hitting streak, and showing signs of being his old self. The Marlins are comfortable with Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio as a double-play combination.

Buehrle has been as advertised, an innings eater and a real professional. If Josh Johnson is moved, the veteran lefty can assume the role of ace.

The question is whether the team would part with Johnson or Ricky Nolasco.

For the right price, they would certainly consider anything.

On Monday night, Johnson threw perhaps his best game of the season. He struck out nine, and allowed one hit in six scoreless innings. But a small cut near the nail on his right middle finger caused him to be lifted.

Johnson is expected to make his next start. But will it be with the Marlins?

The Rangers, Red Sox, Angels and more were scouting Johnson on Monday. In all, there were about 20 scouts at the game.

Johnson is signed through 2013. Ramirez is under contract through 2014.

This is where it gets interesting. The Marlins may consider moving Johnson and Ramirez, the faces of their franchise since 2006.

It appears the Red Sox aren’t in position to take on a lot of salary, unless they part with Carl Crawford.

Last week, there was a USA Today report that the Marlins and Red Sox discussed Ramirez and Heath Bell for Crawford.

While that story didn’t take form, perhaps a bigger package could create a real blockbuster trade. To move Ramirez, the Marlins could include Johnson or Nolasco.

Crawford will make $20 million in 2013. From 2013-17, he is signed for a total of $102.5 million.

Ramirez is set to make $15.5 million in 2013, and 16 million in 2014. Johnson is under contract for $13.75 million this year and in 2013. Nolasco is set to earn $11.5 million next year.

If the Marlins want to do business with the Angeles, outfielder Peter Bourgos could be part of a deal. The Rangers may step up for Johnson because of needs in their rotation.

Even though the Marlins have made it clear that they are willing to trade, they also have the luxury to only do deals that make sense.

Joe Frisaro




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