When Manny Ramirez hit the free agent market after the 2000 season he was coming off a season in which he finished third in MVP voting and delivered a league-leading 1.105 OPS. That production earned him an 8-year, $160 million contract from the Red Sox, which was at the time the most lucrative contract in franchise history.
Ramirez never failed to produce during his seven and a half seasons in Boston, as he established himself as one of the best right-handed hitters of his generation. He made the All-Star team in every season he spent with the Red Sox and finished in the top-10 in MVP voting in each of his first five seasons here in Boston. Smashing 30+ homers and driving in over 100 RBI was like clockwork for Ramirez, who became the anchor of one of baseball’s best offenses.
As long as Ramirez was producing at the plate, the Red Sox were willing to overlook his poor defensive instincts and goofy antics. Taking a bathroom break inside the Green Monster during a pitching change, showing up late to Spring Training, or diving to cut off a throw that wasn’t intended for him? That’s just Manny being Manny.
Eventually Manny’s act wore thin, paving the way for his exit from Boston in the summer of 2008. Ramirez’s production began to dip as he complained of leg pain in order to excuse himself fro the lineup, despite occasionally forgetting which leg was supposed to be the injured one. Needless to say, his teammates weren’t thrilled, which boiled over into a heated argument with Kevin Youkilis that resulted in Ramirez taking a swing at him in the dugout. Weeks later the final stroke broke when Ramirez shoved Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick to the ground during a dispute over tickets. The Red Sox traded Ramirez at the deadline to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three-way trade that landed Jason Bay in Boston.
It often ends badly when a star player leaves town, but it’s hard to fathom an uglier divorce than the one the Red Sox had with Ramirez. Despite how it ended, Ramirez still proved to be one of the game’s best hitters while he was here and helped the Red Sox win a pair of championships, including the curse-breaking 2004 title in which Ramirez was named World Series MVP. Regardless of what you may think about Manny being Manny, his production clearly lived up to his lofty price tag.
Next: David Ortiz