Seemingly out of nowhere, Hanley Ramirez has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $88 million deal with a fifth year vesting option to return to Boston, where he was once a promising prospect before being dealt to the Marlins for Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett.
Alone, the signing is an interesting one. While there is no denying Hanley’s offensive talent, he seems to be a 90-million-dollar-man without a defined position. Luckily though, it’s a very long offseason.
Some would argue that his true position is shortstop, but it seems unlikely that he ever sees time there at Fenway, for a few different reasons.
The first is that his defense has deteriorated to a pretty poor level. The chances of seeing a drastic defensive improvement there at the age of 31 are slim.
There’s also the Xander Bogaerts issue. You know, the guy who started the year at short, was replaced by Stephen Drew, lost his confidence, then was moved back to short which just-so-happened to coincide with an uptick in offensive production? Moving him from short again would be an incredibly poor decision.
So we move on to third base, which is currently an open position, with ‘currently’ being the key word.
The Sox are still in the Pablo Sandoval hunt, with some reports saying he may have already agreed to a deal. Sandoval is a much better defender at third than Hanley is at this stage of his career. If the Panda is coming to Boston, third-base is his, leaving Hanley still without a position.
So we move on to the outfield, where the Red Sox now have options.
The current list of Sox outfielders goes on forever: Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Allen Craig, just to name a few. Something was going to have to give even before Hanley signed.
I’m not too keen to the idea of sticking Hanley in front of the Monster when he’s only ever played outfield in winter ball, but he’s got to play somewhere and outfield looks like the spot. So it’s safe to assume this will be the first of many moves. At least two of that group of outfielders could have a new address next season, possibly in return for a position of need (fingers crossed for some starting pitching), while Hanley takes over in left.
No matter where he ends up playing in the field though, the Sox lineup just became quite a bit more formidable.