Logically speaking, given the Red Sox current slate of personnel, it would've been easy to come to the conclusion that the idea of signing Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez would be mutually exclusive. Given the team's hole at third base for the upcoming season, signing one of the two marquee infielders to fill that spot would make sense.
The Red Sox may have different plans, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Red Sox are not only in on Sandoval (who reports suggest is leaning towards signing with Boston), but the team is also going hard after its former top prospect. Having initiated contact with Ramirez' representation a couple of weeks, talks have reportedly intensified in recent days.
Sandoval has offers in hands (characterized as "final offers" by agent Gustavo Vazquez in a conversation with Over the Monster) from the San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Red Sox. Despite the serious offer to Sandoval, the Red Sox may have ambitious plans to bring both players in.
The Red Sox are known to be in the middle of talks for star third baseman Sandoval, and after remaining in contact with Ramirez since as far back as the GM meetings, they are believed to be possibly moving toward an agreement with the star shortstop.
The Red Sox could even make it a triple play if they are able to lure both those positional stars, plus their former ace Jon Lester, who they are also talking to.
While it's unclear what position Ramirez might play if he goes to Boston (or even if the Red Sox can fit both positional stars, though indications suggest they can), there's no doubt the Red Sox are in play for Sandoval and Ramirez at the moment.
Sandoval is the better fielder of the two players. Xander Bogaerts seems firmly planted at shortstop for Opening Day 2015. Ramirez has reportedly been open to the idea of moving to the outfield, but the Red Sox already have an influx of players at the position with Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino.
Ramirez will garner a big contract from whatever team he signs with this offseason, so playing him as part of an outfield platoon makes no sense. There are issues to consider with the 30 year old infielder, including reported attitude issues and his inability to stay healthy the last couple of seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If the team, as Heyman suggests, is willing to sign Ramirez, Sandoval AND Lester, the trio would represent among the most significant free agent coups in recent history. Given the team's reported offer to Sandoval (five years for $95 million), Lester (six years for $110-120 million) and Jim Bowden's free agent contract predictions (four years at $79 million), which are generally pretty close to the real deal, the Red Sox would be willing to commit at least $58 million to the payroll for just three players in an offseason where the team's projected budget without any trades has them with about $50 to $55 million to spend according to the payroll projections done by Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
Pablo Sandoval leaning towards Red Sox
The Kung-Fu Panda may be closer to finding a new home and the chances that it's in Boston appear to be growing.
Should the Red Sox decide to trade Cespedes, the team would have about $65 to $70 million dollars to spend to fill the need for two starters, two bullpen arms, a third basemen and a catcher. If the Red Sox are serious about signing Lester, the price tag on the southpaw will undoubtedly go up given the scarcity of elite lefties on the market, meaning that the amount of money the Red Sox have to spend on another starter, two bullpen arms and a catcher will be extremely limited.
That, of course, is under the assumption that the team is trying to stay under the luxury tax for this season. It's impossible to read the minds of Ben Cherington and Larry Lucchino, but the idea of committing significant money to not just one, not just two, but three players seems to go against everything that the team built up as their philosophy leading up to the 2013 World Series championship.
Sandoval represents a slightly different case a 28-year-old free agent (meaning that the majority of his contract will take place in his prime, but committing significant money and years to a player with the recent history of Ramirez and even more money and years to a pitcher over the age of 30 just doesn't seem like a move that would make any sense for the crew down at Yawkey Way.