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Red Sox haven't decided where Hanley Ramirez will play yet

The Sox are reportedly finalizing a five-year, $90 million deal with free agent Hanley Ramirez, but haven't figured out just what they are signing him for.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Hanley Ramirez has played all but 112 of his 1,175 career games at shortstop. He's a poor defensive shortstop despite all that practice, though, and as he's now on the wrong side of 30, it's hard to believe he's going to get much better. Just because he's been a shortstop doesn't mean he's going to be one going forward, however: ESPN's Enrique Rojas reported that the Red Sox will decide where Hanley Ramirez will play sometime after they finalize their signing of him.

Ramirez has stated that he's open to playing third base, a position he was not happy about moving to back when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes before the 2012 season. This is a different situation, though, one Ramirez is in control in, and there shouldn't be any issue about where he is playing if he and the Red Sox have discussed that this is a question yet to be answered. Given the Red Sox are also trying to land third baseman Pablo Sandoval, it doesn't sound as if that's the only position Ramirez is willing to play.

The Red Sox have a glut of outfielders, but none of them haven proven they possess Ramirez's bat. Obviously, some trades would need to be made to accommodate Hanley Ramirez, Outfielder, but that's why the Sox haven't settled on where it is Ramirez will play just yet. His position ultimately depends on which spot they open up, and unless the Sox suddenly plan on trading Xander Bogaerts, we're likely talking about sticking Hanley in left or right field. Remember, trading Bogaerts doesn't necessarily make sense in a world where the Sox have Ramirez, Sandoval, and whatever pitchers they end up paying, as its his low cost (and the low cost of other homegrown pieces) that allows for that kind of spending in the first place. The Sox could deal Bogaerts for a pitcher who is similarly talented, youthful, and cost-controlled, but then they'd still be left with Hanley's glove at shortstop, and position players are better bets than young arms, to boot.

With Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts likely entrenched in the majors already -- Castillo's contract pays him to be in the bigs, and he certainly hit like he belonged there, while Betts' performance suggests he's similarly ready -- this likely means the Red Sox will have to move Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes' is in the final year of his deal, and if the Sox have both Ramirez and Sandoval, his bat is still helpful, but maybe more luxury than necessity. Plus, he's capable of bringing Boston much-needed help in their rotation.

If the Sox don't sign Sandoval, then Cespedes can probably stick around, as Ramirez can slot in at third base. The Red Sox would still have Allen Craig, Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, and the outfield logjam they came into these negotiations with, but the infield would be set, and their depth in a strong position.