Well… that escalated quickly.
On Friday, the Boston Red Sox Designated First Baseman and Designated Hitter Hanley Ramirez for Assignment. This roster move was also done in tandem with adding Second Baseman Dustin Pedroia back to the Big League club.
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with The Turf’s “DFA Watch,” here’s what that means.
When a player is designated for assignment, they are immediately removed from the team’s 40-man roster. From there the team must choose one of the following options:
- They can bring the player back onto the 40-man roster within 10 days of the day they were DFA’d.
- They can place the player on waivers within the first 7 days.
- They can trade the player.
- They can release the player.
- Or they can outright them to the Minor Leagues.
When the Mets DFA’d former Ace and Hero of Gotham Matt “The Dark Knight But Really Just a Two-Face Cosplayer” Harvey, it was clear as to why the Mets made the decision. Harvey refused to be demoted to the Triple-A squad and was then sent packing. This Hanley situation is the opposite. It was out of the blue.
Hanley Ramirez has spent the majority of this year bouncing between first base and DH, similar to what he’s been doing on the Sox since he rejoined them in 2015. However, the addition of J.D. Martinez and the resigning of Mitch Moreland seemed to make Ramirez’s position on the team, somewhat redundant. I’ve spoken about this before, but with Hanley’s contract and Mitch’s freshly signed deal, the Red Sox are paying a lot of money for two guys to split time at first.
This is a Contract Move.
Ryan wrote about Hanley’s deal when the Sox signed J.D. Martinez, and if you need a reason as to why the Sox DFA’d Ramirez, it’s very easy to see why.
“So the Martinez deal may look fine on the books. But there’s one that certainly won’t now that Martinez is here… and that’s Hanley Ramirez. That’s right, El Trece is owed north of $22 million this year, and the Red Sox have already signed another first baseman (Mitch Moreland), along with an incumbent DH in Martinez for the upcoming campaign. So let’s say Hanley gets the start at first base against lefties or DH if Martinez is playing in the outfield. How many games will Ramirez start in total?100? 120?
The point is, is that the Red Sox will be paying Hanley almost as much as Martinez this season, and Hanley will not start close to a full season’s worth of games regardless of his health.And maybe that is exactly what the Red Sox had planned. You see, Hanley has a stipulation in his contract that guarantees him a fifth season at his current $22 million AAV if he surpasses 497 at bats in 2018. So if Hanley can reach that plateau by season’s end, he’s ensured big money for one more year in 2019. He will have a sizable role on this team, but I just don’t know if there is enough playing time to go around for Hanley to vest his fifth season (and perhaps this is what the team expects). It took him 133 games in 2017 to reach 496 at bats, and it’s going to be tough for him to reach that number again with competition at both first base and DH this season.”
The Red Sox had to make a move to stop Hanley’s 2019 option from kicking in, and this was the way they chose to do it.So what happens now?Will the Red Sox release Hanley? No. There’s no way the Red Sox pay Hanely all of that paper money to not have him on their team. Remember the great contract sell-off of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez? That was done to free up cap space, and the Red Sox got very little in return. There’s no way they get nothing for the $22 million they owe Hanley for 2018.
The signs that they are keeping Ramirez are all but invisible, especially since Hanley has already said his goodbyes via Twitter. So that really only leaves one option.The Red Sox are going to trade Hanley Ramirez, for essentially nothing.
So where will he go? A couple of places.
Seattle just lost a lot of pop from their lineup as Robinson Cano got suspended for 80 games for violating the MLB’s PED policy. The Mariners have also been waiting for Dan Vogelbach to come up to the MLB club, using Ryon Healy at first in the meantime. Vogelbach is hitting .200 and Healy’s still learning the position, but with Cano’s absence at second, and Dee Gordon’s move to the outfield, an outfield spot could open up for Hanley in the Pacific Northwest.Texas might be interested in the former Rookie of the Year. The Rangers are having an abysmal season, and while they have a crammed outfield, they could definitely use the depth off the bench.
Toronto could also be a landing spot for Hanley, as Kendrys Morales has proven lackluster so far in 2018. Not to mention the enticing idea of giving Justin Smoak some days off at First, but still keeping his hot bat in the lineup. The Jays haven’t been the same since they got rid of their triple punch to the gut when EE and Bautista left town. Hanley can add that power back into the lineup.In the other league, there are some interesting trade partners for the Red Sox.
The Washington Nationals are in an interesting spot, having lost Zimmerman and utilizing Matt Adams and Soto in the outfield. All of these things leave a hole in their first base depth, as well as a first bat off the bench. The addition of Hanley could give them some much needed breathing room off the bench and at first. If you want to get out of the first round of the NL playoffs, you need power hitting, something Hanley legitimately brings to the plate.
The Colorado Rockies signed Ian Desmond to a large deal a few seasons ago, and while he had turned in some decent numbers at first, they’ve still needed to use guys like Matt Reynolds at first when plugging holes in the outfield. I don’t need to remind you of Coors Fields lovely friendship to power hitters, and the Rockies could rise Hanley’s bat to the playoffs late in the summer.
At Coors Field South, the Diamondbacks could also use some help at first base. I’m not saying that the D-Backs should push the panic button on Goldschmidt just yet, but I am a touch worried about their bats off the bench. The D-Backs are wearing thin playing guys like Daniel Descalso and Devon Marrero on the regular, leaving guys like Nick Ahmed and Jeff Mathis to come off the bench. In a pinch, you’re gonna be lucky if those guys can put you in top with one swing of the bat, but that’s what you could use Hanley for.
Regardless of where he lands, I can’t help but feel bad for Hanley. The first time around he was never give a fair shake at becoming the player we all thought he could be for the Sox. However, he did help us win a World Series by not being in Boston, so there’s that.
I personally felt he could have been the next big Papi, but then came Mookie, Benintendi and eventually J.D. Martinez, and at the end of the day, he simply didn’t fit in Boston. So to Hanley Ramirez, thank you for your service and I look forward to seeing you play this season, regardless of the jersey you wear.