Boston Red Sox trying to trade Hanley Ramirez


The Boston Red Sox are reportedly looking to move Hanley Ramirez, with a trio of American League teams rumored to be in the mix.

One of Dave Dombrowski’s greatest challenges will be rectifying the mistakes of his predecessor, which may push the Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations to dump the biggest free agent signing made by the old regime last winter.

The Red Sox are publicly standing by the notion that they intend to transition Hanley Ramirez to first base in an effort to salvage his role with the team, but behind closed doors the front office has been discussing opportunities to trade the former All-Star. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reports that the Red Sox are targeting the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles as potential landing spots for Ramirez.

After experimenting with using Ramirez in left field ended in disastrous results, it’s clear that teams won’t risk putting him in the outfield again. He’s long outgrown his natural shortstop position and would need to drop a few pounds in order to regain the athleticism needed for him to go back to the hot corner. While the Red Sox may be willing to give him a shot at learning first base out of necessity, other teams aren’t going to trade for him with that position in mind if they’ve never see him play it before. That limits the potential trading options to American League teams that can slot him into the designated hitter slot, protecting them from Ramirez’s atrocious defense.

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Seattle always seems to be in need of more offense, which could entice them into taking a chance on Ramirez’s bat. The issue for them is that it would likely mean relying on Nelson Cruz to be an everyday right fielder following a season in which 72 of his 152 appearances came as a DH. Cruz isn’t Ramirez-level awful in the field, but he’s clearly best suited for the DH role.

The Angels have a potent middle of the order combination of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, yet still ranked only 12th in the league in runs scored. Their lineup needs more depth and another power threat, which is something Ramirez could give them. Pujols also saw significant time at DH this season, so adding Ramirez to fill that role would mean not having it available to use for their 35-year old first baseman.

Baltimore could be an appealing option, so long as the Red Sox can stomach the idea that Ramirez could end up having a bounce-back year while playing for a division rival. The O’s are still interested in bringing back free agent first baseman Chris Davis, but the market price may exceed their limits for the man that led the majors in home runs this year. Ramirez could be a less expensive alternative to replace some of the power in their lineup if Davis walks. Clearing Ramirez’s vacated roster spot, while trimming a bit of the team’s salary, could free the Red Sox to sign Davis themselves.

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One factor that will play into any trade discussion involving Ramirez will be money. It’s expected that the Red Sox will need to eat at least half of the $68 million remaining on his contract over the next three years. While we shouldn’t expect any blue-chip prospects to be coming our way in exchange for Ramirez, the quality of the return will depend on how much salary the Red Sox are willing to take on. The more money they chip in, the better the haul. Either way, the Red Sox are clearly selling low. Trading Ramirez isn’t about replenishing the farm system by adding more enticing prospects, it’s about removing Ramirez from the roster to allow the Red Sox to add a more reliable first base option.

The primary goal of this offseason is finding a front of the rotation starter, which could cost them north of $25 million per year. Removing about half of Ramirez’s salary gets them nearly halfway, especially if they stay in-house to find another first baseman by using a cheaper solution, such as Travis Shaw. With David Ortiz‘s salary coming off the books when he retires after the 2016 season it will free up even more room in the budget. Clearly a significant chunk of salary from their future payroll should make the Red Sox feel more comfortable chasing the top free agent pitchers without burning too big of a hole in owner John Henry’s wallet.

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A healthy Ramirez is still capable of being a great hitter. The Red Sox aren’t ruling out the idea of giving him one more chance, especially considering the DH role will become available a year from now. However, if there is legitimate interest from multiple other teams willing to take him, the Red Sox have to explore those options.