By Steve Perrault – Follow on Twitter @Steve_Perrault
The more we hear from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the more we can assume that his top priority this offseason (next to acquiring an ace) is finding a way to deal Hanley Ramirez out of Boston. While this task is certainly easier said than done, it got me to thinking which teams would realistically have any interest in trading for the overpaid, underperforming “first baseman.”
Based on Ramirez’s purely miserable production defensively, it’s safe to say that whichever team inquires about his services would be one that is in need of a designated hitter. While a good portion of teams have resorted to the “DH by committee” routine, there could still be a club out there that wants that role to be filled predominantly by one player. Considering that the DH is (obviously) only used in the American League, we will stick with those teams when determining the interest for Ramirez this offseason.
It also needs to be mentioned that regardless of which team (eventually) acquires Ramirez, the Red Sox will have to eat a LARGE chunk of that remaining $66 million of his 4-year deal. And let’s not forget the vesting option of $22 million that would be owed to Ramirez based on his number of plate appearances in 2017-18.
Here are the American League teams that may, or may not, be on Dave Dombrowski’s radar for acquiring Hanley Ramirez in the coming weeks.
There’s a Chance:
The Orioles have ranked in the top of the American League in terms of power numbers for the last few seasons, but the majority of those stats were courtesy of now free-agent slugger Chris Davis. It seems unlikely that the O’s will be able to bring Davis back, as he’ll be fetching the biggest contract of his life, so Hanley could provide Baltimore with some much-needed power in the DH position.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox took a chance on DH Adam LaRoche last offseason, and boy did it not pay off. Taking away his injury-shortened 2011 season in Washington, LaRoche had the lowest batting average, home runs, and RBI of his entire 12-year career in 2015. While Chicago has struck gold with Cuban star Jose Abreu, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the (other) Sox to be looking for a bat to add to their lineup.
The Indians ranked dead last in DH batting average last season (.188) and were in the lower third in baseball in team home runs and RBI as well. While Cleveland was 26th in team payroll last year, if the Red Sox were willing to eat a good chunk of Ramirez’s contract (as previously mentioned) this would prove to be a non-issue. Keep your eye on the Tribe to potentially be in on the Han-Ram sweepstakes.
The Twins were a middle-of-the-road offensive team in 2015 and could certainly use some more power in their lineup to get them over the hump. They were quietly right outside a playoff spot for the majority of August and September, so maybe Twins GM Terry Ryan thinks adding a bat like Ramirez could be their missing piece.
It’s a Long-shot:
Los Angles Angels
For a team that definitely isn’t lacking in the power department, the Angels may still have some room at the DH position if Albert Pujols were willing to play first base more frequently. Though Pujols missed 63 games in 2013 with a left foot strain, he has remained relatively healthy since then, only missing 8 of a possible 324 games in the past two seasons. Though it is somewhat unlikely, the Angels may take a flyer on Ramirez.
Robinson Cano can be a drama queen at times, so would Seattle want to add another player that falls directly in this category? It’s worth noting that both Cano and Ramirez players are wildly overpaid too. Also, Nelson Cruz may need to spend more time at DH, considering he has been injury prone in the past. So, in summary, the Mariners are the definition of a long-shot to land Hanley.
Thanks, But No Thanks:
The Tigers had by far the highest DH batting average in 2015 (.336), thanks in large part to A.L. batting champ Miguel Cabrera. Detroit had hoped for more consistent production out of Victor Martinez, but the 36-year old slugger had his worst power numbers since coming to the Tigers back in 2011. Detroit is still tied to Martinez for another $38 million over the next two seasons, so making a move to acquire Ramirez wouldn’t make much sense. Also, I can’t imagine Dombrowski has a phenomenal relationship with the Tigers front office after bolting for Boston this past August.
Coming off of the biggest turnaround season in baseball, the Astros have no need to tinker with the young and talented core that they currently have in place. And with Evan Gattis being one of the most productive DH’s in baseball, Houston will respectfully pass on Hanley’s “services.”
Kansas City Royals
One of the biggest reasons why the Royals won this year’s World Series was because they were, arguably, the most versatile team in baseball. Night in and night out, a new player could play the role of hero and lead Kansas City to victory. That being said, Royals DH Kendrys Morales quietly had a very impressive season in 2015, hitting .290 with 22 home runs and 106 RBI. The Royals also won the title because they were a tightly-nit group. The potential risk of bringing a known clubhouse-nightmare onto that team would not be worth the “value” in acquiring an aging slugger.
New York Yankees
Alex Rodriguez, A.K.A. the Yankees 40-year old DH, is still owed $40 million over the next two seasons. A-Rod also led the team in home runs (31) and was 2nd in RBI (86) in 2015. Simply put, there is zero wiggle-room at the Yankees DH position.
There is a 0.0% chance Billy Beane, the ultimate value-searching GM, would find any value in an overpaid, underperforming player that is extremely limited in the field. So, yea, that’s not gonna happen.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have found success in the past in taking advantage of the “DH by committee” approach, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. They’re also 28th in payroll as of the start of last season, so they wouldn’t be willing to take on nearly any of the moolah that comes along with Han-Ram. Tampa Bay will politely pass.
The American League Comeback Player of the Year is why the Rangers have no need for Ramirez. Prince Fielder literally came back from the dead this year (not literally, just go with it), as he hit .305 with 23 round-trippers and 98 RBI. Everything is clearly bigger in Texas, including their DH and his stats, so they are all set on Hanley.
Toronto Blue Jays
The odds of Toronto pursuing Ramirez were already low as it was, but then the Blue Jays exercised their team option on 1B/DH Edwin Encarnation and that was the official nail in the coffin. There’s enough attitude on that roster already, but imagine them adding Hanley as well? No chance.