Former Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez, whose tenure with the organization ended in late May, appears to be lining up a comeback for the 2019 season. Per Jon Heyman of Fancred, via Twitter, the veteran slugger intends to play winter ball and ramp up for the campaign to come.
It’s not surprising, on the one hand, to hear that Ramirez intends to try for a comeback. After all, he’s only 34 years of age (35 in December) and has been a high-quality hitter over a full season as recently as 2016. That said, about five months have passed since Ramirez was cut loose with nary a word emerging on his intentions.
Ramirez certainly has not performed to his typical standard at the plate of late. Since the start of the 2017 season, he carries a .245/.318/.421 slash over 748 plate appearances. That’s somewhat below the league-average in terms of overall output, which just isn’t enough for a player who is limited to first base at this stage of his career.
Though Ramirez enjoyed a scorching month of April, his bat went cold in May, culminating in an 0-for-21 stretch that led to his release from the Red Sox on June 1. The Orioles were later rumored to have considered bringing Ramirez aboard as a first base/DH option, but nothing came of those talks and Ramirez was left unsigned for the remainder of the season.
We recently explored the first base market for the coming offseason. Ramirez, as noted there, is something of a wild card. While he won’t drastically alter the plans of many teams, he represents another option for clubs that lack a firmly-entrenched regular at the position. With relatively little in the way of right-handed-hitting alternatives, at least in free agency, there ought to be some interest.
Of course, it is questionable just how many opportunities Ramirez will have to choose from, and whether any will come with a 40-man roster spot. It may not help that Ramirez has not always maintained the greatest reputation for effort level, though he ought to be fairly motivated if he wants to resurrect his career. Ramirez will surely prefer to join a contending team, though relatively few figure to be in need of part-time righty first base bats. Of course, there ought to be a few lower-budget or middle-of-the-road teams that will consider taking a shot in hopes that Ramirez can add an impact bat to their lineup.