The Red Sox first baseman’s hot start could force a tough decision for team management: Bench the hot bat, or pay him next year?
But if Ramirez continues at this pace, it could bring up a big decision at the end of the year. He has a vesting option for 497 plate appearances in 2018, something he has reached the last two seasons in Boston. The option is worth $22 million dollars, and is good for just the 2019 season.
Within that lies the choice: Will the Red Sox bench Hanley Ramirez, even if he continues to tear it up?
The Red Sox offered Ramirez the contract in the first place because he showed he still had game. He had a rough season in 2015, but bounced back in 2016. He battled through shoulder injuries last year, which showed that he is better than the .250 hitter he was.
Now, I am not saying that he is going to continue to hit .300 until October. That’s highly unlikely. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he can hit .280 with an OPS around .850.
If he does, it would be a terrible decision for the Red Sox to bench Ramirez to prevent him from reaching his vesting option.
First off, it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the team to do it. Why would management take away one of the best hitters on the team just to save money? If the goal is to truly win a World Series, they will put the best product on the field. If that includes a 34-year-old Hanley Ramirez, so be it.
Secondly, it would be a bad look for the Red Sox organization as a whole. If Ramirez cools off and drops back into a .250 hitter again, there is a cause to bench him. But if he remains a solid hitter, Ramirez could have a legitimate beef with the Boston because they decided to bench him, despite being a good player.
Either way, this is a good problem to have. There is no doubt that Boston management will make the right decision. If that decision means investing another $22 million into next season for a good player, so be it.
I think we all expect Hanley Ramirez to continue to play well, so this could become an interesting storyline at the end of the season.
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