Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora each addressed the media today following the team’s decision to designate first baseman Hanley Ramirez for assignment. All links below are to the Twitter accounts of Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, who were among the reporters covering the respective discussions.
As interesting as anything was simply the fact that the leadership duo divulged an unusual amount of information about how the move went down. And the story behind the decisionmaking process was certainly notable in its own right.
Both men stated that Cora reached out unprompted to suggest that Ramirez ought to be the player removed to make way for the return of Dustin Pedroia. Though Dombrowski says he was surprised to hear that recommendation from the rookie skipper, and noted that he had been “prepared to go in a different direction,” the veteran baseball ops executive elected to cut ties with the highly paid Ramirez. In his comments, Cora thanked Dombrowski for trusting his judgment.
It seems there was some concern on the part of all involved that Ramirez would not be a good candidate for a part-time role, which he was headed for after a tough recent run at the plate. On the flip side, Dombrowski says Cora assuaged any worry that bumping Ramirez would harm chemistry in the clubhouse.
The fact that Ramirez’s contract includes a vesting option for the 2019 season did not come into play, Dombrowski was careful to note. “The vesting option has nothing to do with it,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to win.” Whether or not it was a driving factor in the decision, the option can no longer vest, as it had been on track to do had Ramirez remained a semi-regular part of the Boston lineup.
At the end of the day, the Sox decided to abandon the alternative roster decision they had originally intended to make. Dombrowski told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe a few days back that he knew how he’d proceed, though he wouldn’t say. And Cora confirmed today that the expectation internally had been the same as it was outside the organization: namely, that little-used, out-of-options reserve Blake Swihart would be the player moved off of the roster.
Swihart, of course, is a catcher that the team really has not trusted behind the dish. He requested a trade; we even examined possible landing spots. Evidently, so did the Red Sox. Dombrowski says they weren’t just interested in sending him out for a return that did not hold any appeal, though he also says the team wasn’t placing a particularly high price.
Now that it’s clear Swihart will remain in Boston, at least in the near-term, it seems there’s a renewed sense that he’ll be given some action. (Of course, the return of Pedroia also means that other players will be left looking for additional opportunities.) Cora indicated he may start Swihart at the catching position. Swihart will also evidently be considered for some time at first base, if he can show enough aptitude at a position where he has little experience.