Many people have Hanley Ramirez ranked as the best available free agent position player on the market. This should be considered more of an indictment on the available position players than a kudo to Mr. Ramirez.
The other two “big name” positional players in the market were Pablo Sandoval and Victor Martinez. Martinez, a designated hitter, is off the market which makes it a two horse race. Both come with a level of name recognition but neither player is what they appear to be. I will cover Sandoval in a later piece but right now let’s focus on Hanley Ramirez.
Ramirez could be on the radar of the Yankees, Mariners, Giants, Dodgers or even the Blue Jays. He will most likely command a six-year deal which would have him employed through his 37 birthday. That is just dead money in my opinion and a contract that every MLB team should avoid.
If a team could get a two-year deal than it might not be horrible but that is just not going to happen. Heck, you can even expect him to get Jacoby Ellsbury type money and that will be a mistake.
Many people will talk about his years in Miami where he was an annual threat to steal 50 bases, hit 25+ home runs and score over 100 runs. While with the Marlins, he was the Rookie of the Year, a two-time Sliver Slugger and went to three All-Star games. But that was then and this is now. He is no longer that player and has not been that player in a while.
Ramirez has never been considered an elite fielder but even his previous range has declined in recent memory. For any team that entertains Ramirez in free agency, they will most likely move him to the hot corner. That will assist and mask some of his fielding inadequacies.
It is true that he hit .345 in 2013 but he only played in 86 games. His inability to play a full season is something that has plagued him in recent memory. Last year he managed to eclipse 100 games, playing in 128, but as I said he only played in 86 the year before that. Think about that for a second, he has missed 110 games in the last two years.
Even without the injuries, he has seen an overall decline in numbers. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, he is hitting a combined .277 and has not scored more than 79 runs in any of those seasons. In fact, he is far from a 50 stolen or even 30 stolen bases player. It is more than likely that he will steal in the neighborhood of 20 bags and hit 20 home runs. While 20/20 is not bad to have, it is not worth the contract terms that Ramirez will command.
Taking into consideration his declining numbers and apparent increase in injury risk, you have a player who will be 31 before the season starts looking to sign a six-year deal. Let’s play this out for a second. The Dodgers, who made the Yankees look frugal lately, have let Ramirez hit free agency. That alone should tell you something. Yes the GM and the agent will tell you they just could not get close and that the door is not closed but if the Dodgers really believed in Ramirez he would be signed already. The could have pad him a salary that kept him from “testing the market.”
Now add in his defensive skills that continue to erode, his severe drop in speed (age and injury factor), and that he is on the wrong side of 30 and that recipe just does not taste good. Look I am not saying you will not get 1-3 years of productivity from Ramirez but I guarantee you that this contract will have 3-4 years of dead money written all over it.
Some teams can afford the hit but many cannot nor should they have a budget crippling contract on the books. I just can’t see a way that a six-year deal for Ramirez makes any real sense. It just should not happen but it will.
Ramirez will sign with the Toronto Blue Jays for six-years, $132 million. He changes positions and moves to the corner which sends Brett Lawrie to 2nd base. The Blue Jays get hype but continue to fall behind the best of the AL East and will regret the contract by the All-Star game in 2016 if they are lucky.