So by now you’ve heard the breaking news that the Boston Red Sox have designated first baseman Hanley Ramirez for assignment to make room for the returning Dustin Pedroia. It’s a move that shocked many initially, but after digging in deeper it’s a move that’s best for business at this time.
Hanley is a fan-favorite and a character that many will miss, but the production never lived up to the contract despite what the personality may mistake you into believing. Mitch Moreland (.311/.390/.476) needs to be in the lineup and playing first base every night due to his ability at the plate and with the glove. No one can argue that, Ramirez takes away plate appearances from Moreland and despite slimming down, remained a liability with the glove. With Ramirez out of the picture, Moreland is your unquestioned middle of the order first baseman that will flash the leather and save runs defensively ranked among the best in the game.
The Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of Hanley’s salary (over $15M) if he’s not claimed and have one week to trade or flat out release him. Best case scenario is one team wants Hanley for the rest of the season, takes on his full salary and gets a motivated Ramirez. I mean after all Jose Bautista just got picked up by the Mets. It’s more likely Boston works out a deal to eat a majority of the deal and get a player to be named later for Ramirez. The important piece to remember here is by DFAing Hanley now, Boston saves in 2019 by keeping his $22 million option from vesting by reaching the 497 plate appearances he was on pace to exceed.
The choice came down to Blake Swihart, who requested a trade, or Hanley. Cora had stated the Sox weren’t concerned with the lack of production from the catcher position offensively which meant Vazquez and Leon were safe due to their work behind the plate and massaging the pitching staff. Brock Holt wasn’t going anywhere with his offensive production and his versatility to play every position on the diamond outside of pitcher and catcher. Swihart, out of options, offers more upside and is under control at a much more team-friendly rate making this decision clear-cut. With Ramirez out of the picture, it creates more opportunities to get Swihart into the lineup (1B, 3B, OF) with J.D. Martinez sliding to left, Bradley on the bench and Swihart as DH with Moreland at first.
When you take all the emotion out of it, this move times out just right. Get Hanley out of the room completely before he sours it due to his lack of playing time. He’s been on board with the program under Cora, but we know his history and can flip the script at any time. Let the leaders in Sale, Martinez, Betts and Pedroia assume control of the room and eliminate the potential hazardous concerns over the ticking time-bomb in Ramirez.
The Red Sox are in first place in the AL East at 34-16 and making the move to get rid of Hanley Ramirez at this time was best for business. It took some guts for Dave Dombrowski to rip off the band-aid now, but in the long-run will net positive for the Red Sox. The money they could potentially save on the luxury tax if Ramirez is picked up could also give Boston the flexibility to bolster the bullpen with a reliever in the summer months. When you dive in and take a deeper look, it all makes perfect sense.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank