The Orioles have explored the possibility of signing free-agent first baseman Hanley Ramirez, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. General manager Dan Duquette confirmed Rosenthal’s report, telling Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that a Ramirez signing is “under consideration” (Twitter links).
There’s already familiarity between Duquette and Ramirez, as Rosenthal points out that the executive has signed the player in the past. When the Dominican-born Ramirez joined the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2000, Duquette was their GM. The 34-year-old Ramirez has since enjoyed an accomplished career with a few teams, though he’s now coming off a disappointing second stint with the Boston organization.
The Red Sox reunited with Ramirez on a four-year, $88MM contract prior to the 2015 season, but he didn’t see the pact through. After Ramirez slashed a so-so .260/.326/.450 in 1,798 plate appearances in his return to the Red Sox, they designated him for assignment last month and ate the remaining $15MM-plus on his deal when they officially released him Friday.
Ramirez is now free to sign anywhere, and while he’d seemingly make more sense on a contender than a bottom feeder, the O’s are the first known team with interest in him. Baltimore entered Saturday with the majors’ worst record (17-40), undoubtedly setting it up to sell in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But signing Ramirez, whom the Orioles would only have to pay the prorated league minimum, could give them another deadline trade chip if he rebounds in their uniform.
Ramirez has hit .254/.313/.395 with six homers in 195 PAs this year, and even though those aren’t impressive numbers, they easily eclipse the horrid production Orioles first baseman Chris Davis has posted in 2018. Davis probably isn’t going anywhere, though, given that the Orioles still owe the once-elite slugger annual salaries of $23MM through the 2022 campaign. Elsewhere, the Orioles have three designated hitter types on their roster in the expensive Mark Trumbo, Pedro Alvarez and Danny Valencia, so it’s not exactly clear how much playing time Ramirez would accrue with them.