SUNDAY: Ramirez is not under federal investigation and has not been connected to any drug ring, Shelley Murphy and Evan Allen of the Boston Globe report. Rather, Ramirez’s friend – who was arrested in April while transporting fentanyl from New York to Massachusetts – mentioned the player’s name “to get the cops off his back, which didn’t work,” the friend’s attorney informed Murphy and Allen.
Ramirez’s agent, Adam Katz, responded Sunday, saying (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today, on Twitter): “The reporting on Hanley’s involvement in this matter was reckless and irresponsible. It’s unfortunate that one careless, inaccurate story can generate such widespread negative and damaging coverage. Hanley is pleased to be absolved from wrongdoing and having any involvement in this matter.”
FRIDAY: Long-time major-leaguer Hanley Ramirez is “being eyed” in relation to a broader federal and state drug investigation, Michele McPhee of ABC News and Newsweek reports on Twitter. The precise nature of the Ramirez’s involvement is not yet entirely clear; at present, it’s not even apparent whether he is viewed as a potential suspect of any kind by authorities, and he has not been charged with any crimes.
Ramirez’s agent, Adam Katz, issued a statement to media members including Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link). He asserts that “Hanley has no knowledge of any of the allegations contained in this media report and he is not aware of any investigation.”
McPhee, a veteran crime reporter, explained in an appearance on Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub (audio link) that a man (not Ramirez) was found by police to be carrying in his vehicle a large volume of drugs — specifically, fentanyl and crack cocaine. She continued to report that the man, who was later arrested and charged, “claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police.”
The suspect is evidently also linked to a broader Lawrence, Massachusetts fentanyl ring that has been the subject of a significant, ongoing investigation. Tom Cleary of Heavy.com dug up some related criminal complaints that seem to line up with the reporting. None of those documents mention Ramirez.
Additionally, McPhee stated in the above-linked radio interview that the incident “sparked, obviously, some contact between Ramirez and law enforcement who were working on this case.” That said, the nature and timing of that contact is not known. And there’s no real suggestion to this point that Ramirez is a subject of ongoing investigation himself.
Ramirez is currently a free agent. He opened the year with the Red Sox but was designated for assignment in late May and later released. When Ramirez was sent packing by the Boston organization, it came as a bit of a surprise. While he was slumping at the time, he had started the season well and seemed worthy of a longer leash, particularly given his hefty salary.
When the Sox decided on the move, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Alex Cora gave a somewhat unusual account of the decisionmaking process. With rather atypical willingness to discuss the decision in detail, both said that Cora had suggested it’d be preferable to part with Ramirez despite plans to move another player off of the roster.
McPhee says that the above-referenced incident “coordinated with the the timing of [Ramirez’s] release from the Red Sox.” The team, though, maintains that it had no knowledge of any investigation at the time, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The decision on Ramirez was based purely on baseball considerations, per the organization.
It’s important to note, too, that it’s still not clear whether the dates really do line up in the manner hinted at. While Ramirez was technically released on June 1st, release waivers were requested on May 30th. And he was designated for assignment — the truly consequential roster move — on May 25th. A press release indicates that the arrest of the suspect occurred on June 6th; if the car stop occurred at a prior time, the date is unreported at this point.
It has also been a topic of some note in recent weeks that Ramirez has remained unsigned for an extended stretch. Because he was released, the Red Sox are obligated to him for the $15MM or that was left on his contract for the present season. Any other club could have (and still can) acquire Ramirez’s services for the only the league-minimum rate of pay. Today’s reporting could, in theory, provide a reason for Ramirez’s still-ongoing free agency. But there’s no direct evidence for that proposition and there are certainly other conceivable explanations for the fact that he has not yet joined a new team.
Ramirez, 34, is certainly not your average major leaguer. He has played 14 seasons at the game’s highest level, earning about $160MM along the way. Early in his career, it seemed Ramirez might be on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory, though he has not been consistently productive more recently. Ramirez has generated some controversy at times for eccentric behavior, though that has never been a significant concern during periods when he has produced at the plate. What impact, if any, this still-developing situation may have on his career moving forward remains to be seen.