The Red Sox shocked the baseball world last month when they parted ways with Hanley Ramirez. Fans then waited anxiously to see where he’d go, but weeks passed and no teams snatched him up.
Today, the spotlight is back on Hanley, but not because of baseball. Michele McPhee, an investigative journalist at ABC News posted a tweet announcing that Hanley was “being eyed in connection with an ongoing federal and state investigation.” In an eery parallel, McPhee was also one of the first to report that an arrest warrant was being prepared for the late Aaron Hernandez, exactly five years ago this week.
It looks like Hanley Ramirez might end up playing ball in a prison yard. He’s been named as a having a role in a drug ring by someone who was stopped by the police driving a car filled with 435 grams of Fentanyl and “a large amount of crack cocaine.” The driver of the car claimed items in the vehicle belonged to the ballplayer, and then Facetimed Hanley at the scene. McPhee called into WAAF 107.3 to talk about what is apparently “a sweeping federal case involving a substantial ring that’s being operated out of Lawrence, Massachusetts,” which has a reported connection to Hanley.
The Red Sox have issued a statement through their VP of Media Relations claiming they are “unaware of any investigation,” and reiterated that his release was a “baseball decision,” but it sure makes a lot more sense that they’d DFA him for criminal activity than because of the vesting option in his contract. There was plenty of time left to figure out why he was only batting .163 in his last month with the team or how to avoid not paying him $22 million in 2019, but illegal activities involving drugs? Swallowing the $15 million they owed him this season is a small pill to take in this kind of situation; if they even had an inkling that Hanley could be facing legal troubles, I’m sure the Sox couldn’t say goodbye and good riddance fast enough. The Red Sox definitely need more bat power, at this juncture, it seems like parting ways with Hanley was definitely the smart move. The timeline certainly supports this theory; the car stop was apparently two days before Hanley’s release from the team.
What’s confusing, though, is why Alex Cora said as recently as last weekend that he was surprised Hanley hadn’t been signed by another team yet. Perhaps it was simply obfuscation, which wouldn’t be surprising given the apparent seriousness of the situation. But if not, it definitely contradicts the theory that the Sox cut him for criminal activity. Even more confusing is Hanley’s agent Adam Katz also issuing a statement that Hanley himself “is not aware of any investigation.”
In late 2017, the New York Times reported that fentanyl deaths had increased by 540% over the past three years. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50.
It looks like a sad day for Boston fans. It’s painful when people you idolize let you down in such a big way. But for someone with all the money and fame they could ever need to make such reckless and terrible decisions is just inexcusable. I truly hope there’s an explanation for this, but from what I know, this murky situation doesn’t look like it’ll have a happy ending.
I’ll have more on this situation as it develops and as I can confirm with more sources.