Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Friday, bringing his stint in Boston to a close earlier than expected.Assuming the Red Sox are unable to trade Ramirez -- and given the vesting option in his contract that would pay him $22 million in 2019 if he accrues
Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment by the Red Sox on Friday, bringing his stint in Boston to a close earlier than expected.
Assuming the Red Sox are unable to trade Ramirez -- and given the vesting option in his contract that would pay him $22 million in 2019 if he accrues 302 more plate appearances this season under his current contract, it seems far-fetched to think any team would deal for him -- then he'll be released next week and become a free agent.
Boston would have to pay Ramirez the balance of his $22 million salary this season, meaning his next club would owe nothing more than the prorated portion of the league minimum.
So where might Ramirez wind up? Although the Red Sox decided they had better options on their roster, there are plenty of teams that could use Ramirez's bat in their lineup or on their bench.
Here's a look at a half-dozen clubs that could make a play for Ramirez if (when?) he hits the open market.
Joe Mauer landed on the DL last week with a cervical neck strain and concussion-like symptoms, taking the first baseman/designated hitter out of Minnesota's lineup for the foreseeable future. Although Ramirez's season hasn't lived up to his previous years, many of his numbers are better than what Mauer produced prior to his injury. He won't offer the same on-base skills as Mauer (Ramirez's .313 OBP is inferior to Mauer's .404), but he would bring more power to the Twins, whose four home runs from the DH spot are tied for the fewest in the American League.
Houston is fourth in the Majors in runs scored, yet its production from the DH spot has been woeful. The Astros, who have started five players at DH this season, have a collective .651 OPS from the spot, ranking 14th out of 15 AL teams. Evan Gattis has started 33 games as the DH, slashing .224/.286/.388 in 126 plate appearances. Ramirez would offer a better alternative against lefties in particular, as his .854 OPS vs. southpaws is significantly higher than Gattis' .698 mark.
The Mets gave Jose Bautista another shot, so perhaps they'll offer up a landing spot for Ramirez, who would bring another professional bat to a lineup ranked 27th in the league in runs scored. Ramirez hasn't played in the outfield since 2015, but Bautista hadn't played third base with any regularity since '11 before the Braves brought him in to play there.
Ian Desmond is having a brutal year at the plate, slashing .181/.234/.374 in 48 games. Desmond's .608 OPS ranks 150th out of the 164 hitters with enough at-bats to qualify for a batting title, the biggest reason Colorado's .598 OPS at first base ranks 29th out of 30 big league teams this season. Ramirez would give the Rockies another option at the position, while a move to Coors Field -- where his career 1.040 OPS in 32 games is his highest in any ballpark -- could re-energize him.
Kendrys Morales has struggled to get it going this season, leaving Toronto 12th out of 15 AL teams with a .666 OPS out of the DH spot. There have been countless calls for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to get the call as Morales' replacement, but if the Jays are resolved to keeping their top prospect in the Minors, Ramirez would give them a more productive option at the DH spot than Morales. One potential catch: Morales is owed $12 million next season.
Chris Davis is owed nearly $85 million between 2019-22, so it's unlikely that the Orioles would replace him altogether, but the first baseman is off to a horrendous start, slashing .152/.240/.250 with four home runs. Davis' OPS is even worse than Desmond's, with his .490 mark topping only two of the 164 qualified hitters this season. If nothing else, Ramirez would give manager Buck Showalter a much better option against lefties, against whom Davis is hitting .125 this season.
Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.