Red Sox: Finding a trade partner to take Hanley Ramirez

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 28: Hanley Ramirez
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 28: Hanley Ramirez /
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Could the Boston Red Sox explore options to trade Hanley Ramirez in order to clear a path for a splashy free agent signing?

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 28: Hanley Ramirez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 28: Hanley Ramirez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Hanley Ramirez is still a member of the Boston Red Sox but for how long? The 33-year old has only one guaranteed year left on his contract for $22.75 million, plus a 2019 option that vests only if he meets certain plate appearance requirements. We can assume that Ramirez isn’t in the team’s long-term plans but will he stick around for 2018?

Not if Dave Dombrowski gets the top target on his wish list. The Red Sox are rumored to be chasing free agent J.D. Martinez, whose defensive limitations combined with Boston’s stacked outfield make him ideally suited for the designated hitter role. With Mitch Moreland signing a two-year deal to remain in Boston at first base, where does that leave Hanley?

On the trading block, most likely. Dombrowski has been coy about his plans, yet the obvious reason behind his misdirection is that he risks alienating Ramirez by admitting the Red Sox are in the market for his replacement. That would be a disaster if Dombrowski fails to sign Martinez and the team is forced to rely on Ramirez for one more year.

It’s hard to imagine Ramirez being content with a bench role in a contract year when he may be vying for the last big league contract of his career. Keeping a disgruntled Ramirez around isn’t worth the headaches or the risk that he’ll be a distraction in the clubhouse. If the goal is indeed to bring in Martinez, or any other slugger to fill the DH spot, it’s clear that Ramirez would need to go.

Where could they send him? Ramirez is overpaid, coming off a down season in which he hit only .242 with a .750 OPS and 23 home runs, but he could still have some appeal for a contender looking for a temporary solution at first base or DH and isn’t willing to commit to the long-term deals commanded by the available free agents.