1:20pm: The Indians have announced that Ramirez is officially a free agent.
1:00pm: Hanley Ramirez has elected free agency after declining an outright assignment from the Indians, as indicated on the Triple-A International League transactions log. He’ll presumably venture out into the open market in search of a new opportunity.
The 35-year-old Ramirez signed a minor league contract with Cleveland over the winter and broke camp as the club’s primary designated hitter, but he batted just .184/.298/.327 with two homers and 17 strikeouts in 57 plate appearances in his short stint there. That minor league deal came roughly nine months after being released by the Red Sox last June, though Ramirez told The Athletic’s Zack Meisel back in February that he turned away offers from clubs following last year’s release so that he could “get my body healthy and come back next year.”
It’s fair to question what Ramirez has left in the tank. He hasn’t been a decidedly above-average bat since the 2016 season, and while this year’s 57 plate appearances are too small a sample from which to glean anything meaningful, the former NL Rookie of the Year and batting champion has managed a paltry .241/.317/.414 batting line through 805 PAs dating back to the 2017 season. While that output is only about eight percent worse than league average by measure of park- and league-adjusted stats like OPS+ and wRC+, a player with Ramirez’s lack of defensive value has a much higher bar to clear when determining what’s an acceptable level of offensive performance.
Ramirez was a pure designated hitter with Cleveland this season, so it’s doubtful that he’ll generate much, if any, interest from National League clubs. There may very well be some American League organizations that take a speculative look at the former Marlins/Dodgers star, but it stands to reason that Ramirez would need to work his way back to the big leagues on a minor league deal.