Making sense of Red Sox surprise decision to DFA Hanley Ramirez

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Hanley Ramirez #13 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 10, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 5-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 10: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Hanley Ramirez #13 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 10, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees 5-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Boston Red Sox made a surprising move on Friday to cut ties with mercurial first baseman Hanley Ramirez.

In a shocking turn of events, the Boston Red Sox have elected to designate first baseman/DH Hanley Ramirez for assignment. The move comes ahead of the return of second baseman Dustin Pedroia and allows Boston to activate him without moving a younger, more versatile option off the roster. That’s how the decision will be spun moving forward, but there is likely something bigger at play.

Ramirez was well ahead of the pace needed to trigger his player option for $22 million for next season. The 34-year-old needed just under 500 plate appearances for the option to vest, and had already taken 195 trips to the plate this year. The only way to avoid the option for next season would have been to bench Ramirez, which would have opened an entirely different can of worms.

As far as level of production, Ramirez had actually been fairly good this season. He ended the month of April hitting .330/.400/.474 with three home runs and 17 RBI. Ramirez had been in the middle of a two-week slump and had hit just .179/.200/.328 over his past 16 games. Still, he had managed to be fairly productive in key spots, driving in 12 runs over the same time period.

The money saved is a big component for why Ramirez ultimately received the same ignominious send-off as colossal bust Pablo Sandoval, but the decision may not be received as well in the Boston clubhouse. Sandoval’s act wore thin throughout the organization, but Ramirez was well-liked by his teammates and kept things loose at all times. Despite his up-and-down performance, he mostly put his reputation as a moody malcontent behind him.

Next: Ranking every World Series winner

The signings of Sandoval and Ramirez will forever be linked in Red Sox history, but Ramirez does deserve much more credit for attempting to do whatever the team asked of him. He agreed to move to left field in 2015 (which was obviously an ill-fated move from the jump). His first season was torpedoed after he injured his shoulder running into the wall trying to make a catch. Ramirez bounced back to hit 30 home runs and drive in 111 in 2016, but slumped again last year.

Over the course of his three-plus seasons with the Red Sox, Ramirez was a very mercurial player, and it cost him $22 million in the end. There’s no way Boston elects to keep Blake Swihart over him had he not slumped the past two weeks. Ramirez should latch on with another team quickly and could come back to haunt the Red Sox if he heats up again down the stretch.