hanley ramirez-boston red sox May 10, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez (13) hits a solo home run against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that comes as a surprise for several different reasons, the Red Sox will reportedly designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment, ending the first baseman/designated hitter’s tenure in Boston.

The news was first reported by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe.

The Red Sox’ decision to cut ties with Hanley was jarring for several reasons.

  1. The veteran carries a reputation as a fearsome slugger, with 269 career home runs and a .487 career slugging percentage. Only two seasons ago, he whacked 30 home runs and drove in 111 runs.
  2. He is considered an integral part of the Boston clubhouse, and with the team off to a 34-16 start, it would seem that they might be hesitant to mix things up.
  3. The Red Sox had another perfectly good option as they tried to clear roster space for the newly healthy Dustin Pedroia. Instead of designating Ramirez, they could have released or traded Blake Swihart, the onetime top prospect who is hitting an absolutely brutal .133/.212/.167 this season.

But confusing as the choice to DFA Hanley may seem at first, there are also plenty of reasons it makes perfect sense.

  1. Hanley is not the All-Star he used to be. In fact, he’s not even the starting-caliber player he used to be. Since Opening Day 2017, he has batted .245/.318/.421 for a 92 wRC+ that ranks right in line with Kevin Pillar, Yolmer Sanchez, Max Kepler and Yangervis Solarte. In that time, he has contributed essentially no value on defense, while splitting his time between first base and designated hitter. As a result, he ranks as the eighth worst player in baseball over the last season and a half.
  2. In today’s era of 13-man pitching staff’s, teams value players who can handle multiple positions and fill various needs. Someone like Hanley who can barely play even one position and probably belongs in a platoon role at best often just isn’t worth a roster spot.
  3. Hanley’s $22 million option for next year would have vested once Hanley hit 497 plate appearances. By designating him now (after 195 plate appearances), the Red Sox avoid having to pay out that money, while allowing Swihart a little more time to prove himself.

The Red Sox likely planned to release or bench Hanley eventually to avoid being stuck with him for another year, and by doing so now, they get to hold onto the semi-promising Swihart. If Ramirez were the hitter he used to be, maybe Boston would have kept him around to aid the pennant chase, but with him diminished to replacement-level, there was little reason for Dave Dombrowski and company to do so.

Having designated Hanley for assignment, the Red Sox now has seven days to release or trade him. They won’t likely find much of a trade market for a 34-year-old with a .740 OPS and a $22 million-a-year salary, but if he becomes a free agent, he’ll presumably have some suitors. And maybe he’ll even get the opportunity to make Boston look silly for casting him aside.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.