Feb. 26: The Indians have formally announced the signing.
Feb. 24: Ramirez will earn $1MM in guaranteed salary if he makes Cleveland’s roster, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets, with some more money available in incentives.
Cleveland’s the first team for the 35-year-old Ramirez since Boston unceremoniously released him last June 1. Ramirez drew little reported interest after the Red Sox cut ties with him, owing to back-to-back seasons of subpar production at the plate and an inability to add value in the field or on the base paths. Formerly a superstar with the Marlins and a quality player with the Dodgers, Ramirez combined to hit a meager .245/.318/.421 (91 wRC+) with 29 home runs and minus-0.7 fWAR in 748 plate appearances from 2017-18.
Ramirez was an easily above-average hitter as recently as 2016, but that was his lone productive year with the Red Sox, who signed him to a four-year, $88MM deal prior to 2015. The contract was a bust for Boston, with which Ramirez contributed a microscopic 0.9 fWAR over 1,798 PAs. He also left much to be desired in left field and at first base during his Red Sox tenure, though he did earn playable marks from Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating at the latter position in a combined 358 innings from 2017-18.
There was obviously considerable risk for the Red Sox when they signed Ramirez, whereas the Indians are buying low on him now and hoping to land a solid contributor for a nominal fee. It’s possible the right-handed Ramirez will catch on with the Indians in a first base/designated hitter platoon, as their projected starter at the former spot – Jake Bauers – is a lefty. Bauers struggled versus same-handed hurlers in 2018, but Ramirez pulverized southpaws last year and owns a lifetime .896 OPS against them.