I haven’t been this shocked by a Red Sox move since the Nomar trade of 2004. In retrospect, we can all see that getting rid of the team’s superstar was actually a catalyst for the greatest World Series in history.
This does not feel like it will end the same way.
The Red Sox have activated Dustin Pedroia from the DL after his postseason surgery. And to make room for him, they designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment.
We all knew Pedroia was going to come back. He’s the senior, veteran player on the team. He’s been phenomenal in most years, despite requiring surgeries in the last two off-seasons. But when it comes to attitude, I’m in Hanley’s camp. After all, Pedroia was clear about not wanting to take up the mantle of leadership when Papi retired. Worse yet, he sided with David Price in the Dennis Eckersley fiasco. And then, he threw fellow teammate Matt Barnes under the bus during the Manny Machado incident, which directly involved him.
Hanley, meanwhile, has become his own team’s biggest cheerleader. From donning pink catcher’s gear on Mother’s Day to embracing the Travel Day dress codes to tweeting cute messages after the games, he’s been fun to watch even when he hasn’t been phenomenal at the plate.
The only explanation for this that makes sense is a long-game one. As in, 2019 long. Because otherwise, there’s no rhyme or reason to this move that keeps JBJ, Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Nuñez, and Blake Swihart but says goodbye to Hanley Ramirez.
May Hanley has been much worse than April Hanley; he went from hitting .330 AVG/.400 OBP/.474 SLG last month to .163/.200/.300 so far this month. Despite this, Hanley is still batting .254 overall, higher than any of the aforementioned players the Red Sox kept; JBJ’s at a dismal .167 and everybody knows the curveball is his undoing. Hanley is far less predictable.
There are some serious lineup questions here, too. With Hanley gone, if JD Martinez plays the outfield, which has happened more than anyone thought and more than he DHs, you’ll have Mitch Moreland at first and Blake Swihart as DH. Somewhere, David Ortiz is shaking his head in disbelief.
Money is the obvious factor here. None of the aforementioned players make close to Hanley’s paycheck, and if Hanley had reached 497 at-bats this season, it would vest a cool $22 million next year. The Sox already have the highest payroll in MLB, and with a slew of hot free agents hitting the market at the end of this season, we all knew they didn’t want Hanley getting those ABs.
But it’s truly a very sad day in Red Sox Nation. Just a few days ago, I wrote about the drastic change in Hanley’s playing and attitude from last season. He’s been a highlight of the team, fun in the dugout and much better at the plate. His time in Boston will end with him going hitless in his last 21 at-bats, but I have a feeling no one in Red Sox Nation is glad to see him go.