Here's everything to know about reported Hanley Ramirez criminal investigation

Alex Reimer
June 23, 2018 - 2:01 pm

The most important thing to know about the reported Hanley Ramirez criminal investigation is there are far more questions than answers at this point. The only reported link between Ramirez and a suspected massive fentanyl trafficking ring based out of Lawrence is an alleged FaceTime call involving the ex-Red Sox slugger and a man who was arrested for fentanyl trafficking charges. 

That said, there are curious circumstances and coincidences surrounding the case. ABC News’ Michele McPhee, who broke the story that Ramirez is “being eyed” in an ongoing federal and state investigation, spelled out the timeline in an interview with WEEI Friday night:

April 25: Forty-five individuals are arrested in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for allegedly participating in a fentanyl trafficking conspiracy. Of those 45 people, 21 are from Lawrence. 

May 25: Red Sox designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment. He was hitting .254/.313/.395 with six home runs in 195 plate appearances.

May 30: Man is pulled over in Lawrence for a traffic stop. Police search his car and find a box in the backseat, McPhee reports. According to McPhee, the man permits the police to examine everything, except the box. He FaceTimes Ramirez, and claims the box belongs to him. Ramirez denies it. 

June 1: Red Sox officially release Ramirez. He remains unsigned. 

What we know for sure:
There is an active federal and state investigation into a large fentanyl trafficking ring centered in Lawrence. 

Hanley’s reported connection:
Based off McPhee’s reporting, Ramirez’s link to the probe is the FaceTime call with an alleged drug dealer during his car search on May 30. The man said Ramirez owned a black box filled with fentanyl, which Ramirez denied. 

Red Sox deny knowledge:
The Red Sox say they didn't know about the investigation when they DFA'd Ramirez. “We moved Hanley off the roster for baseball reasons,” team president Sam Kennedy told Kirk Minihane Friday.

Timeline of events doesn't indicate Red Sox knew:
The Red Sox DFA’d Ramirez five days before the reported traffic stop and FaceTime call. They did release him two days afterwards, but that’s a formality. 

Baseball reasons for Ramirez’s release:
After a scorching April, Ramirez was only hitting .163 in May. Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Ramirez was cut, because they didn't believe he would be able to adapt to a smaller role. Also, Ramirez’s $22 million option for 2019 vests if he reaches 497 plate appearances this season. He was on track to reach that mark.

Weirdness surrounding Ramirez’s release:
Even with Ramirez’s offensive struggles, it’s peculiar the Red Sox cut their regular No. 3 hitter just two months into the season. Plus, Ramirez hit .341/.412/.494 in April. Players of his caliber are usually given the time to work out of a bad month.

Also, it’s bizarre Ramirez is still on the market, and even stranger that no teams have been tied to him. Nobody wants a power bat for the league minimum? Weird. 

It’s far too early to say Ramirez is part of the alleged fentanyl ring, never mind that the Red Sox knew about it. Right now, according to McPhee’s reporting, the most we can say is an alleged drug trafficker accused Ramirez of owning a box full of fentanyl, and then FaceTimed Ramirez, who denied it. 

That’s not nearly enough to implicate Ramirez, obviously. But it is enough to keep asking questions. 

This post has been updated.