After a disappointing 2015 season, there’s “talk in the front office” that Dave Dombrowski is looking to trade Hanley Ramirez, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Ramirez, 31, played in 105 games for the Red Sox last season, his first after signing a four-year, $88 million deal that includes a vesting option for 2019. But after getting off to a hot start with the bat — hitting 10 HR in April — Ramirez’s issues on both offense and defense became a glaring issue for the team.
The former longtime member of the Miami Marlins capped his 2015, hitting.249 with 19 HR and 53 RBI. Ramirez also finished with an on-base percentage below.300 for the first time in his career (.291). Those were just the issues with the bat as Ramirez’s issues at his new position in left field left a lot to be desired.
A part of Ramirez signing with Boston included him switching to the outfield, a position he never played during his Major League career. He spent most of his career at shortstop with some experience playing third base, but never any time logged in the outfield. In his 92-game stint as a left fielder, Ramirez finished with the worst UZR/150 (-31.9) among left fielders with at least 700 innings played on the season, per FanGraphs.
As the 2015 season winded down and Ramirez sat out the last month, reports suggest that the Red Sox are still committed to trying out Ramirez at first base in 2016, per Ian Browne of MLB.com. With David Ortiz a full-time DH, the team lacking stability at the position and Ramirez’s struggles in left field, the move makes sense. The Red Sox also have phenom Xander Bogaerts plugged in at shortstop and the struggling Pablo Sandoval at third base, so moving back to one of his two old positions seems unlikely.
Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald wrote in early-October at the Red Sox asked Ramirez to drop 15-2o pounds this offseason. The reasons for that being so Ramirez can be healthier, reduce the chances of injury, and be more agile as he switches to the infield.
There is still $66 million owed to Ramirez through 2018, and five GM’s recently told Cafardo they wouldn’t trade for Ramirez even if Boston paid half his salary.
Going back to Cafardo’s original report, Dombrowski apparently has three potential destinations in mind should be ramp up his attempt at trading Ramirez. Cafardo lists the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the top three destinations.
The Mariners have been the most active team this offseason, as new GM Jerry Dipoto looks to improve his squad in 2016. The team has already added Joaquin Benoit, Leonys Martin, Chris Iannetta, Luis Sardinas, and re-signed Franklin Gutierrez. Adding Ramirez to be the Mariners’ DH could help the team’s offense next season, but having two DH-type players in Ramirez and Nelson Cruz may not be ideal if Seattle is trying to be flexible.
Chris Davis will likely sign elsewhere, thus leaving a big hole in the Orioles’ lineup. Therefore, adding Ramirez may be a cheaper way of plugging that big hole. Also, GM Dan Duquette originally drafted Ramirez with the Red Sox many years ago and always “loved his bat,” Cafardo writes. It was also mentioned that Boston has interest in Davis, but their pursuit of Davis would require trading Ramirez and not signing an expensive starting pitcher.
As for the Angels, they are looking to upgrade their offense and adding any productive bat would be a boost. However, Ramirez’s lack of defensive flexibility may not make him the prime candidate. Albert Pujols is plugged in at first base, and Andrelton Simmons is the new shortstop. Cafardo mentions that if Ramirez can lose those 15-20 pounds, he could make for an interesting third base candidate.
[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]