Another big-name free agent hitter is off the board. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported Sunday night that the Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms on a five-year, $90 million contract with Hanley Ramirez. The sides were reported to be closing in on a deal earlier in the day.
As noted in his free agent profile, Ramirez was one of the top position players available via free agency this winter. He missed time in 2014 with a myriad of smaller injuries, but only hit the disabled list once in August with an oblique strain. In 512 plate appearances he posted a .283/.369/.448 slash line with a 135 wRC+.
It’s unknown exactly where Ramirez will play with the Red Sox who are also in serious pursuit of free agent Pablo Sandoval. The right-hander presumably could play shortstop but that would block top prospect Xander Bogaerts. Third base would makes sense if Sandoval is not also signed. There’s been talk that Ramirez could slide into left field as his athleticism should make a transition possible. And let’s face it, he probably wouldn’t be any worse there than he has been at shortstop over the last couple seasons.
Boston certainly didn’t get a deal on Ramirez as he’ll earn $18 million per year on average, but all things considered, the deal is actually not that bad for the club. Keep in mind that the Texas Rangers gave Shin-Soo Choo seven years and $130 million last winter. The Red Sox have the payroll flexibility to make significant additions and aside from their interest in Sandoval, they are reported to have an offer out to free agent starter Jon Lester that is in the $110-to-$120 million range.
The Ramirez deal makes it more likely that the Red Sox will deal disgruntled outfielder Yoenis Cespedes who is said to be drawing interest.
The soon to be 31-year old declined a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the Red Sox No. 7 overall pick is protected in the upcoming draft so the Dodgers will receive a pick between the first and second rounds.
Although Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill came to the conclusion that Ramirez would not be an ideal fit for the Seattle Mariners, he still would’ve marked an upgrade. Churchill pointed out that between Chris Taylor and Brad Miller the M’s should have the shortstop position covered and the payroll allotted for the right-hander would be put to better use in other facets of the roster. If the addition of Ramirez prevents the M’s from making other moves, it would not be worth it, opined Churchill.
With Victor Martinez, Russell Martin, and Billy Butler locked up, the market for free agent right-handed bats is looking thin. Nelson Cruz is the top available bat though there are concerns moving forward. Melky Cabrera, Chase Headley, and Alex Rios make up most of what’s left for right-handers.
It’s looking more and more likely that the Mariners will have to turn their attention to the trade market for plugging their offensive holes and considering the free agent options, that certainly isn’t a bad thing. It all comes down to price and whether or not GM Jack Zduriencik is willing to pull the trigger.