Hanley Ramirez is currently the No. 7 first baseman in 5×5 value this year.
He’s also a man who’s been designated for assignment by his club, the Boston Red Sox.
No one ever said fantasy was a perfect game. But hey, I like minding that gap. This is why we do the dance we do.
The Red Sox needed to make a roster move with Dustin Pedroia coming off the DL, and the ultimate decision was a stunner. Ramirez was designated for assignment Friday. Boston has seven days to trade or release the 34-year-old.
Boston will probably be on the hook for the remainder of Hanley’s $15 million contract this year, but the decision also frees the team from a likely $22 million vesting option that was coming if Ramirez made it to 497 plate appearances this year. As a big-market team, the Red Sox probably would have accepted Hanley’s windfall if he was producing. But he’s been a pothole in the middle of the lineup for a while.
Ramirez’s back-of-the-card stats don’t look that bad: he’s batting .254, with six homers, 29 RBIs, 25 runs, four steals. In our 5×5 game, that’s a useful player. The lineup around Hanley — he’s slotted third most of the year — has propped up his counting stats.
Ramirez pushed off to a great start in April: .330/.400/.474, three homers and three steals. He’s had three more May homers, but it’s come with a .163/.200/.300 slash. You need Hanley to be hitting, because he’s a defensive liability at any position. Check out Ramirez’s Fangraphs page — he currently has a negative grade for baserunning, offense, defense, and WAR. (He also turned that unfortunate trick last year, for what it’s worth.)
Like most teams, the Red Sox have an answer at first base. Mitch Moreland and Ramirez have split the work 50-50 this year; now Moreland (who’s 74-percent available in Yahoo) can play most of the time. Hanley and J.D. Martinez were time-sharing the DH role; now Martinez has a clear path to that gig. Martinez might not like being a one-dimensional player, but when your outfield defense consists of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. (who’s not hitting, that’s another issue), and Mookie Betts, it’s hard to justify letting Martinez carry a glove around.
If you’re a Hanley owner in fantasy, you hold onto him and let things play out. Someone is going to let him play, somewhere. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good. Boston is one of the hardest cities to play in when you’re going bad.
The Pedroia activation also raises some questions. He’s coming back from a major left-knee injury; he had a cartilage restoration procedure on it in October. If he’s ready to play most of the time at second base, it pushes Eduardo Nunez into limbo. Not that this would hurt the offense much, given that Nunez has been a .249/.267/.370 sinkhole this year. That hashes out to a 68 OPS+, where 100 is average. He’s been a slightly above-average offensive player for the last three years.
Pedroia’s category juice was lacking in 105 games last year, though he still had a .293 average and .369 OBP. It hashed out to a 99 OPS+, an average player. He had an excellent season in 2016, and another injury-ravaged year in 2015. It’s hard to say what he has left, three months from his 34th birthday.
Boston hosts Atlanta for a three-game series this weekend, starting Friday. Come for the park, stay for the frisky young Braves and the soap opera of the Red Sox. Get your popcorn ready, or grab a tasty sandwich somewhere around Lansdowne Street.