Rumors surfaced this weekend, courtesy Nick Cafardo, that the Red Sox were shopping Hanley Ramirez, with the Mariners, Orioles, and Angels as likely targets. Within 24 hours, Rob Bradford had come back with this:
Sunday night, a high-ranking team source definitively told WEEI.com in regards to Ramirez, "He is going to be our first baseman."
Welcome, one and all, to the Hot Stove season.
It's certainly not the first case of conflicting reports we've heard this offseason, and it's going to prove to be far from the last. But when it comes to Hanley, it's entirely possible that everyone is right. It's just a question of how desperate the Red Sox are to be rid of him.
Let me ask you: are the Red Sox shopping Hanley Ramirez? I don't see how anyone can believe they're not at least checking if anyone wants to take his full contract off their hands. At $22 million, even if Hanley Ramirez is a serviceable first baseman and is his old self at the plate, he's not exactly a bargain. And there's a very real chance that the Sox won't be getting that out of him this season. If someone wants to take Hanley and his full contract and give the Red Sox whatever random PTBNL they don't want anymore in return? Fine.
In fact, the Red Sox are probably willing to eat some small portion of the contract. But the key word there is small. If the Red Sox wanted Hanley gone, he'd be gone. There's plenty of teams out there that are willing to risk $8 million a year for the next three on Hanley bouncing back. But at some point it's no longer worth it to the Red Sox to pay Hanley just to play elsewhere, particularly if that place is in-division as is the case with Baltimore.
Reasons to be wary of a Hanley Ramirez trade
The Red Sox are going to shop Hanley Ramirez around, but is it really a slam dunk decision?
This is particularly true now that David Ortiz has decided to hang it up at the end of the season, and given that announcement, it's all the easier to believe Bradford's source when he says that Hanley Ramirez will be Boston's first baseman in 2016. Yes, there might be a silent rider attached: "unless we can trade him without eating much/any money," but there's a rider for every player on every team. Mookie Betts is going to be Boston's starting outfielder in 2016 unless the Angels are looking to trade Trout for him. Hanley's is just slightly more realistic, and thus actually worth mentioning.
But if the Red Sox are willing to trade Hanley Ramirez, and perhaps even actively asking around to see if anyone will take him at price X, Y, or Z, it doesn't mean they're really expecting to trade him. Just that they're not leaving stones unturned. Hanley Ramirez is going to start the season at first base, so long as some team out there doesn't prove unexpectedly desperate to take the risk the Red Sox are currently stuck with.