Free-agent infielder Hanley Ramirez's representatives are meeting with teams at this week's GM meetings in Phoenix, according to a major-league source, and the market for the Ramirez is beginning to take shape. At this point, Ramirez's free agency is described as being "very early in the process", with no deal appearing to be anywhere near close.
As reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com throughout the week, three teams- the Mariners, Red Sox and Astros- have emerged as teams who have checked in on Ramirez and could be interested in signing him. I'm told the recent front office turnover in Los Angeles has made it difficult to gauge if the Dodgers would be interested in a reunion with Ramirez, though it seems unlikely that they would seriously pursue re-signing him instead of acquiring a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.
The Mariners, who are in search of an impact bat, are "aggressively pursuing" Ramirez, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The team has also been linked to sluggers Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter and Billy Butler, and appear likely to go hard after one of that trio if the bidding for Ramirez gets out of hand.
Ramirez's original team, the Red Sox, has also reached begun to have some interest in Ramirez, according to Rosenthal, who cites his ability to play third base or left field as being attractive to Boston. The Sox are known to be looking for a third baseman and have been linked to Pablo Sandoval, so Ramirez provides an alternative option in addition to someone like Chase Headley.
The most surprising team to be linked to Ramirez thus far is the Astros, who Rosenthal says "have checked in" on the infielder. Houston was not originally expected to be major players for big-name free agents this winter, but may make a significant strike in order to add a star veteran as they come to the end of their long rebuilding process.