So, it’s been just under 24 hours since we learned about the Red Sox designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment. The move is still shocking, but we’ve had enough time to understand the rationale and hear all of the sides’ arguments. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, of course, but the fact of the matter is that it happened and this is what the roster looks like now. Of course, there are going to be a ton of ripple effects through the organization because of this move, with seemingly everyone feeling some sort of change because of this. Let’s take a look at some of the names who will be most affected by Ramirez’ absence from the roster.
This is the obvious place to start, and it’s pretty self-explanatory why he’s here. Moreland had been playing a part-time role for most of this season, and while he’s hit well all year he hadn’t been able to find his way to more consistent playing time. That won’t be an issue anymore, as he’s now the everyday first baseman with little other competition to cut into his playing time. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on Moreland to perform now, especially if Ramirez goes to a new team and starts raking. To be fair, Moreland has hit well all year and hit well pre-injury in 2017, so he clearly can do it. Still, most of his performance this year came in a role in which Alex Cora tried to put him in a position to succeed. It’s harder to do this as an everyday player. All of that being said, Moreland has been consistent all year, he hit a mammoth home run in the first post-Hanley game, and he should be fine in this role.
For a couple of weeks now, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Swihart was going to be off the roster when Dustin Pedroia returned from his injury. Based on their press conferences yesterday, it seems as if Red Sox brass was assuming this would be the case as well. Now, Swihart is still around and there’s going to be more playing time for him. I’m still not entirely sure how this is going to work, but he’s likely to see some time all over the diamond in the super utility role we were expecting heading into the year. Cora indicated he’ll get some time at catcher — it makes no sense to me that this has changed, but that’s a rant for another day — and you can also expect to see him at first base, left field and designated hitter. There’s been a lot of talk about Swihart’s potential at the plate, and now he’ll get a chance to really show it.
This is perhaps the most interesting part of all of this to watch in this writer’s opinion. Over the last month or so, as Moreland has forced his way into some more playing time, the easiest way to do it was to put Martinez in left field with Ramirez at DH. It certainly didn’t hurt that Jackie Bradley Jr. wasn’t hitting. Now, Bradley is swinging a better bat and Ramirez is gone. Does that mean Martinez will be the full-time DH most of us want him to be? I’m not convinced, but it’s not impossible. So far this year, Martinez has gotten a little under half of his starts in the outfield. I don’t think that pace is going to keep up — Bradley’s performance was a huge factor there — but I’d still expect something like a third (ish) of his starts to come in left field. On those days, either Bradley or Andrew Benintendi would get the day off, and Swihart or Eduardo Núñez would slot in at DH.
Travis has been the long-time “First Baseman Of The Future” but he’s never really been able to establish himself in that role. Now, the Red Sox are without a right-handed counterpart to Moreland and Travis is the easiest guy to see sliding into that role. Unfortunately, he still isn’t hitting for power in Triple-A, and really hasn’t been hitting much at all this year. The hope has to be that this move sparks a run for Travis, because he really would fit perfectly as a complement to Moreland if he played up to his potential.
Núñez won’t really be affected too much by the loss of Ramirez, but he’s going to be affected tremendously by the return of Dustin Pedroia, which is why they needed to make a roster move in the first place. Núñez will no longer be forced to play out of position on a daily basis, and the team will obviously benefit from not having him at second base every day. Now, Núñez is going to move around the infield while possibly getting some time in left field and DH. I’d expect him to get most of his run at third base, particularly when the other team starts a lefty. This won’t make everyone happy, but Núñez is not going to fall into a seldom-used bench role.