June 1: The Red Sox formally announced that Ramirez cleared waivers and has been released. He is now a free agent.
May 30: The Red Sox have requested release waivers on first baseman/designated hitter Hanley Ramirez, whom they designated for assignment late last week, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (via Twitter). He’ll likely clear those waivers in 48 hours and become a free agent who can sign with a new club for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.
The move to release Ramirez comes as no surprise. While Boston surely explored trade possibilities for Ramirez, the slugger had more than $15MM remaining on his 2018 salary at the time of his DFA, and his contract also contains a $22MM vesting option that would trigger if he received another 302 plate appearances. Any team acquiring him via either trade or waivers would also be on the hook for that salary and the potential vesting option, both of which are highly unappealing for potential suitors.
However, once Ramirez is released by the Red Sox, those provisions will fade away. He’ll still be owed the balance of this season’s $22MM salary, but the Red Sox will be on the hook for that sum (minus the pro-rated league minimum he’d be paid by another club). The vesting option, meanwhile, is tied to the contract from which he is about to be released and will not apply when he signs a new contract with a new club.
Ramirez, 34, looked resurgent early in the season, raking at a .330/.400/.474 clip in the month of April as he distanced himself from last year’s shoulder troubles. However, Ramirez’s bat has gone ice cold in recent weeks; his Red Sox tenure ended in an 0-for-21 freefall, and he’s posted a putrid .163/.200/.300 batting line since May 1, which has more than offset his strong April showing. By measure of OPS+ (88) and wRC+ (90), his overall offensive output on the season rates worse than that of a league-average hitter.
All that said, a player with Ramirez’s raw ability and track record will surely attract interest from teams in need of help at first base/DH or a corner bat off the bench. He’ll soon have the chance to listen to offers from interested parties before ultimately selecting a new team. Speculatively speaking, it seems likely that a 34-year-old with postseason experience will prefer the opportunity to latch on with a contending club.