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Brewers turn to ex-Cub Ramirez to add lineup punch

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit .306 with 26 homers for the Cubs in 2011. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez hit .306 with 26 homers for the Cubs in 2011. (tasos katopodis/getty images)
Associated Press / December 13, 2011
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The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez yesterday, according to agent Paul Kinzer.

Ramirez will provide a much-needed big bat for the Brewers, who are expected to lose first baseman Prince Fielder through free agency and may be without NL MVP Ryan Braun for the first 50 games of next season if he loses his appeal for testing positive for a banned substance.

Kinzer said Ramirez expects the Brewers to be a contender next season, a crucial factor in his decision. He said Ramirez also likes the idea of playing indoors at Miller Park early in the season.

Ramirez, 33, played 149 games for the NL Central-rival Chicago Cubs last year, batting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. Ramirez played the past eight-plus seasons with the Cubs after he was traded by Pittsburgh to Chicago in the middle of the 2003 season.

His deal is subject to a successful physical.

Hours after agreeing to terms with Ramirez, the Brewers traded third baseman Casey McGehee to the Pirates for reliever Jose Veras. McGehee had a strong rookie season in 2009 and a big year in 2010 but then slumped at the plate in 2011 and lost his starting job late in the season.

Veras was 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA and one save in a career-high 79 appearances last season for Pittsburgh.

The Brewers also finalized their one-year contract with free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez, a deal that includes an option for 2013 that could become guaranteed, and signed catcher George Kottaras to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Mets back to bank The owners of the Mets, needing cash and unable to turn to Major League Baseball for more financial help, received a $40 million loan from a major bank in the past six weeks. The team described the arrangement as a “bridge loan,’’ meant to aid them as they try to raise money through the sale of minority stakes in the club. The loan marks the second time in a year that the Mets have received an infusion of cash. A year ago, the team’s owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, received a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball, but they have not been able to repay it. Sandy Alderson, the club’s general manager, said last week that the organization had lost $70 million in 2011 alone.

Jays get Francisco The Phillies traded outfielder Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays for minor league lefthander Frank Gailey. Francisco spent parts of three seasons with the Phillies, hitting .259 with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs in 225 games. Gailey, a 26-year-old native of Philadelphia, split last season between Single A Dunedin and Double A New Hampshire . . . Righthander Freddy Garcia can make up to $5,575,000 with the Yankees next season. The 35-year-old is guaranteed $4 million under the one-year contract that was finalized Friday. He would make $250,000 each for 25, 27, 29, and 30 starts, plus $275,000 for his 31st start and $300,000 for his 32d start. Garcia was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 25 starts and one relief appearance last season.

Furcal back in fold The Cardinals and shortstop Rafael Furcal agreed to a $14 million, two-year contract, keeping the switch-hitter with the World Series champions after they picked him up at the July trade deadline. Furcal would get a signing bonus of $1 million with salaries of $6 million next year and $7 million in 2013 . . . All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was one of seven unsigned players offered contracts by the Indians . . . Lefthander Matt Moore’s $14 million, five-year contract with the Rays is heavily backloaded, with the team paying a total of $3.5 million over the next three years. Moore’s deal would be worth $37.5 million over eight seasons and includes escalators that could increase the total to $39.75 million depending on starts and innings from 2014-18. A hard-throwing 22-year-old, Moore made his major league debut in mid-September . . . Outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. signed a $2 million, two-year contract with the Dodgers . . . Second baseman Skip Schumaker agreed to a two-year deal with the Cardinals . . . The Angels re-signed righthander Jerome Williams to a one-year contract worth $820,000, avoiding arbitration. Williams went 4-0 with a 3.68 ERA in 10 appearances for Los Angeles, including six starts . . . The Astros signed catcher Humberto Quintero (.240, two homers, career-high 25 RBIs in 79 games last season) to a one-year, $1 million contract plus bonuses . . . Veteran outfielder Aaron Rowand signed a minor league contract with the Marlins . . . The Giants signed infielder Mike Fontenot to a one-year deal . . . The Rays acquired righthanded reliever Burke Badenhop from the Marlins, giving up minor league catcher Jake Jefferies.

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