By David Little – @DLittleMLB
Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment on Friday. The reasons for this are clear. There is 22 million of them actually. In other words, if Hanley reached 497 plate appearances this year, his $22M vesting option for 2019 would have kicked in. However, instead, he will only be owed the $15M remaining for the rest of this season. Boston can now allocate next year’s suddenly freed up $22M towards their young core who will continue through arbitration, as well as possible 2019 free agents Joe Kelly & Craig Kimbrel. In addition to saving money for those contracts, it could very well open up salary to potentially add a rental player at the July 31 deadline for a serious playoff push. Not a lot of salary, but salary none the less.
With Hanley being designated for assignment, the Red Sox have seven days to trade or release him, which allow the 34 year old to join another team.
Despite all the love for Hanley and the impact he has made on this team, his rapidly diminishing offensive production simply could not justify the money he is owed. That, and with Pedroia returning, we needed to free up a roster spot. So essentially, we saved $22M next year, and found a way to retain Blake Swihart with this move.
What does this mean for the Red Sox lineup? First and foremost, we got rid of a hole in our lineup. As was previously eluded too, Hanley was not producing at the plate. Mitch Moreland has been on an absolute tear this season, is a plus defender, and simply overshadows Hanley’s production. Moreland has no more competition at first base, and will get the bulk of at bats and fielding time to continue his production. That’s a plus for our team, because when you have a player that simply isn’t producing, and you continue to try and break him out of a slump, you simply are not running at an optimal level. Alex Cora did everything he could to try and give Hanley a fair shot, but at the end of the day he was too expendable.
Secondly, Swihart was not getting enough time. Remember Swihart? A top ranked prospect that Farrell screwed up? Well he wasn’t getting at bats. This switch hitting kid has all the signs of becoming something great. Now, with Hanley gone, he too will get more at bats, as a DH and first baseman. I hope the best for him, but we have to see how this one will play out.
For guys like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, this move means its time to step into leadership roles. The one area Hanley excelled at was chemistry. He loved the team, and was equally as big off the field with fans and players. Someone is going to have to make up for that. In saying this, I am not worried. Our young guys love playing, and it’s evident every time you watch a game.
In closing, I liked Hanley. He was a great man who had impacts on our team at several moments over the last couple of years. But this was a necessary move, and a good one by Dombrowski. This is a move for the future, and although they sting at times, this is all about putting the Red Sox in the best position possible for the offseason. I am hoping that Moreland continues his production, and that the others on the roster who might have been on the cusp of being expendable recognize this as an opportunity to play themselves into a long term role with the team.
I wish Hanley the best. Hopefully the next team he plays for will have helmets that fit.
ICYMI: EPISODE 48 OF THE AVIDBOSTON PODCAST!!!
SOX/RAYS SERIES REACTION! PEDROIA RETURNS! CATCHING SITUATION! BULLPEN IMPROVES! ATLANTA BRAVES PREVIEW! AND MUCH MUCH MORE!!
Also available on iTunes!