The Rangers agreed to terms with Manny Ramirez on a Minor League contract Wednesday. Ramirez, 41, will report to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday for a workout, but he's not expected to be activated for a few days. Ramirez will serve as a designated hitter.
"We'll evaluate him as we go," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "No deadlines, no end dates. If he's productive and we feel he fits our culture in the clubhouse, then we'll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don't pan out, then no harm, no foul."
Daniels said the club did not have a scout in Taiwan, where Ramirez began the year with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. He hit .352 (64-of-182) with eight home runs and 43 RBIs in 49 games before Ramirez left the club on June 19.
"We're really just going off of resume here a little bit, and it's a no-risk flyer in a lot of ways," Daniels said. "With our history, we like giving people second chances. We know on and off the field the good and the bad of Manny's career. We're inclined to give him an opportunity here."
Daniels said he talked to a few staff members who worked with Ramirez during his career before the signing, including hitting coach Dave Magadan. He hasn't contacted Ramirez much in the last five years since coaching the 12-time All-Star for three seasons with the Red Sox. While Magadan recalls the "turmoil" the Red Sox went through during Ramirez's final season, both Magadan and Daniels have heard Ramirez has changed his "Manny being Manny" behavior. Daniels said Ramirez agreed to cut his famous dreadlocks to comply with the Rangers' Minor League rules on discipline and appearance.
"Manny is a personality," Magadan said. "He's been in the game for a long time, and he's been on a lot of good winning teams. I don't see why he wouldn't get along [in the clubhouse]."
If Ramirez cracks the Major League roster, he'd bring his right-handed bat to a lineup that's left-handed heavy. The Rangers signed Lance Berkman in the offseason as the designated hitter, but Ramirez's presence would likely cut into his playing time.
"Those are the kind of things that are down the road," Berkman said. "I think he has to be productive in Triple-A and show he's capable of producing like he did in his career, which I assume he'll definitely be able to do that. Then it becomes a matter of what these guys want to do. It gives us some lineup flexibility. I don't think it's a bad thing if he's productive."
Ramirez has finished in the top six in MVP voting on seven different occasions. He has a .312/.411/.585 career batting line and is only one of six players in Major League history with those minimums in each category with at least 3,000 plate appearances. He ranks 14th all-time with 555 home runs and 18th all-time with 1,831 RBIs.
"The way everyone talks about [Miguel] Cabrera now is the way everyone talked about Manny then," Magadan said of his time with Ramirez in Boston. "He had a nose for driving in runs. He's a guy, as far as my sandbox is concerned, did all the work asked of him. He was always the first one in the cage and worked his butt off."
He last played in the Majors for the Rays in 2011 before he announced his retirement in April. He started last season in the A's organization with Triple-A Sacramento, but he requested his release on June 15. Ramirez served a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's drug policy during his time in the Minors, and he would be cleared to play if the Rangers called him up.
"Awesome," Elvis Andrus said of the signing. "It was amazing [to watch him play], especially when he used to play for one of my favorite teams back when I was a kid with the Cleveland Indians. It'd be amazing just to talk to him and hopefully he can share some of his knowledge, especially about hitting, with us. If he has that desire that he used to have, he can help us a lot."