Report: Damon, Ramirez sign with Rays

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Report: Damon, Ramirez sign with Rays

Associated Press

Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are about to become teammates again, this time in Tampa Bay.Both free-agent outfielders agreed toone-year contracts with the Rays, a person familiar with thenegotiations told The Associated Press on Friday night. The personspoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements were subject tophysicals and had not been announced.Damon gets 5.25 million and thechance to earn 750,000 in bonuses based on attendance, the personsaid. Ramirez gets 2 million.The moves mark the first majoradditions for the AL East champions after a devastating offseason inwhich one prominent player after another left cost-cutting Tampa Bay.Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and RafaelSoriano signed elsewhere as free agents. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlettwere traded. A strong bullpen was depleted by the losses of JoaquinBenoit, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls.Ramirez and Damon played together forfour years in Boston and helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 WorldSeries title - ending the team's 86-year championship drought. Bothcolorful characters are well past their primes, but if nothing elsethey could at least provide an attraction at Tropicana Field for a Raysteam that drew just 1.86 million fans last year.The 38-year-old Ramirez began lastseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers, then was claimed on waivers latein the summer by the Chicago White Sox. He hit a combined .298 withnine homers and 42 RBIs in the final season of a 45 million, two-yearcontract he signed with the Dodgers.Hampered by injuries, the longtimeslugger had 320 plate appearances in 90 games. Still a power threat, helikely will be a designated hitter for the Rays.Ramirez's career took a downward turn in May 2009 when he was suspended 50 games for using a banned female fertility drug.The 12-time All-Star has 555 homeruns, good for 14th on the career list, and 1,830 RBIs, which ranks18th. He also helped Boston win the 2007 World Series, then was tradedto the Dodgers the following season.The 37-year-old Damon spent lastseason with the Detroit Tigers, batting .271 with eight homers and 51RBIs, mostly as a DH. Weak-armed in left field and no longer the stolenbase threat he once was, Damon remains very durable - he played 145games last year and hit 36 doubles in 539 at-bats.Damon, who is from nearby Orlando,can pad his paycheck by making a difference at the gate. He would get150,000 each for 1.75 million, 1.85 million, 1.95 million, 2.05million and 2.15 million in home attendance.A two-time All-Star, Damon spentfour years with the New York Yankees and helped them win the 2009 WorldSeries. They let him leave as a free agent and he signed an 8 million,one-year deal with Detroit.

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.