According to reporter Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, free agent shortstop Hanley Ramirez is telling teams that he is open to a change of positions. Before today, Ramirez’s unwillingness to move off shortstop, despite his consistent mediocrity at the position, had the potential to reduce his market and potential contract. With this news, however, Ramirez could well become the most coveted bat on the free agent market and there’s a slim chance that Ramirez and the Red Sox, who originally signed Ramirez out of the Dominican Republic in 2000, could seek a reunion this offseason.
After all, despite Ramirez’s lack of defensive success at shortstop, he has been one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball in the last decade. The 30-year old “HanRam” dealt with more than his fair share of injuries in 2014 but still managed to slash .283/.369/.448 with 13 home runs, 35 doubles, and 14 steals in the 128 games that he was healthy.
That season is actually worse his career norms as Ramirez is a career .300/.373/.500 hitter over his nine full seasons between the Marlins and Dodgers. Ramirez is clearly an excellent hitter and his willingness to switch positions and age (Ramirez will be 31 on Opening Day next season) will make him a very attractive free agent this winter.
Unfortunately, with that attractiveness comes the likelihood of a very heavy contract for Ramirez.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts a 6 year/$132M contract for Ramirez and that doesn’t seem at all out of line, especially considering that teams will have to contend with the deep-pocketed Dodgers. However, the Red Sox have plenty of room in their payroll right now and could certainly afford a large contract to Ramirez. The question is whether they will value a major upgrade at third base over a potential addition to the starting rotation and, right now, it does seem that the pitching is an area which merits more concern.
Ramirez will certainly cost a pretty penny but, being the best offensive player available, certainly deserves a look. Personally, I would prefer the Red Sox to spend big on the rotation and take a lower-cost option such as Chase Headley at third base; however, I definitely would not complain about acquiring Ramirez, provided that his contract isn’t too outrageous. It’s still unlikely that the Red Sox will sign HanRam but his willingness to move off shortstop at least opens the possibility, and it could be a very intriguing one as the winter progresses.