As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported last night, Hanley Ramirez is going through release waivers at the moment, which makes it likely that he’ll clear and become a free agent tomorrow afternoon. Red Sox skipper Alex Cora appeared on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM this week to discuss the team’s decision to cut ties with Ramirez in one of the highest-profile DFAs in recent memory (Twitter link, with audio). Per Cora, the decision came down to one of roster flexibility and a desire to get Mitch Moreland’s left-handed bat and superior glove into the lineup with more regularity.
“We’ve been talking about when Pedroia comes back since February,” said the Red Sox’ skipper. “We had different scenarios, different options, and at the end, I talked about being flexible as far as versatility — being able to maneuver the last part of the game with pinch-hitters, pinch-runners, defensive replacements and being able to match up with the opposition. It’s nothing against the player, because Hanley is a good player. He was going through a slump. That’s part of it. Everybody goes through it. … I did feel as an organization, our roster was going to be a little bit tight with him not playing every day.”
More from Boston and from the division…
- Bradford spoke with setup man Joe Kelly about the manner in which the right-hander has now fully embraced his role as a reliever. Kelly wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of moving to the bullpen earlier in his career and had preferred to remain in the rotation, but he’s thriving in and enjoying his role as a late-inning weapon for the Red Sox. Kelly, a free agent at season’s end, said he wouldn’t reject the idea if a club approached him about returning to the rotation this offseason, but it doesn’t sound as if that’ll be a priority for him, either. “I like the job I’m in right now,” he said. “I kind of like the thrill, the adrenaline rush.” Kelly and Bradford also discuss the different mindsets that come with pitching in different roles, his move from the outfield to the mound during his amateur days, and his stress-free approach to his impending free agency in a candid interview that’s well worth a full read.
- Buster Olney and Keith Law of ESPN discussed the timeline for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s promotion in the latest Baseball Tonight podcast (audio link, with Guerrero talk beginning around the 7:30 mark). The pair agrees that Guerrero Jr. should be in Triple-A already and should be called up this summer, despite the fact that some execs with other teams have opined to Olney that the Blue Jays would be ill-advised to lose the year of service time they could gain by delaying his promotion until early 2019. Olney and Law discuss Guerrero Jr.’s defensive and offensive development as well as the marketing opportunities the Jays would have in both 2018 and 2019 by promoting him to the big leagues.
- For all the speculation surrounding the Yankees and Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues that J.A. Happ should be every bit as much on New York’s radar this summer — if not more. Happ, unlike Hamels, doesn’t have a no-trade clause that includes the Yankees, and he’s also earning a more reasonable $12MM this season that aligns with the team’s luxury tax goals. Moreover, though, Sherman notes that Happ simply isn’t separated by Hamels in terms of talent as much as the pair’s reputation would suggest. The 36-year-old reinvented himself following a 2015 trade to the Pirates, and he’s posted better numbers in recent years (and again in 2018) than Hamels. The general thinking extends well beyond the Yankees, of course. If the Blue Jays decide to make Happ available to other teams this July, the southpaw would be one of their most attractive rental chips and would fit on virtually any contender looking to bolster its rotation.