Reflecting on 1-year anniversary of Hanley Ramirez's departure

Rob Bradford
May 25, 2019 - 10:41 am

Everyone knew one year ago that Dustin Pedroia was slated to be called up to the Red Sox. What nobody realized was how they were going to fit the second baseman on the roster.

In case you forgot, the end of the Hanley Ramirez era with the Red Sox was not something we saw coming.

One year later it feels like a decade ago Ramirez played for the Red Sox. Yet prior to his being designated for assignment on May 25, 2018, he was not only entrenched as a member of this team but usually hitting in the middle of their batting order. In fact, the day before he was called into Alex Cora's office Ramirez was hitting second for the Red Sox in their series finale at Tropicana Field, having played 44 of his club's 50 games to that point.

But the other first baseman, Mitch Moreland, had found himself heading into the opposite of direction as Ramirez, hitting .318 with eight homers and a 1.029 OPS. Hanley, conversely, had been horrific through May, hitting just .163 with a .500 OPS. There was also the impending discomfort looming if Ramirez' playing time started to dwindle considering he had a vesting option (plate appearances) that was due to pay him $20 million 2019.

So, what has happened since?

As of this writing, Ramirez is basically out of baseball, having originally made the Indians' Opening Day roster after signing a minor-league deal with Cleveland. He would play in just 16 games with the Indians, hitting .184 with a .625 OPS and two homers.

Following his departure from the Red Sox, there were no signs that Ramirez was returning to the major leagues in 2018, with the only clues of his existence coming from random Instagram photos of the 35-year-old participating in random activities (boating, go-cart riding, family time).

Then, just a few weeks after his DFA, came the controversy involving a report that Ramirez was being investigated for being tied to a drug ring. That conversation was short-lived.

We wouldn't get a hint of Ramirez wanting to play baseball again until he decided to serve as a part-time player in the Dominican Winter League. With Licey, he performed well enough to get the invite from the Indians.

So, how has it worked out for the Red Sox? Well, considering they won a World Series after moving on from Ramirez it would seem the move was the correct one. But making the roster maneuvering truly work was Dave Dombrowski picking up Steve Pearce a month after Ramirez's departure.

When it came to Pearce there was going to be no hard feelings if playing time was split, with the righty hitter supplying a .950 OPS the rest of the way. After Pearce's acquisition, the Red Sox went 41-22 in games Pearce played.

And while Moreland's numbers since Ramirez's DFA have been overall just so-so (.227 batting average, .747 OPS, 21 homers), the first base dynamic seems to be much more cohesive than if Hanley's option had vested. Both Pearce and Moreland are in the last years of their respective contracts, making a combined $13 million. The team's combined OPS at the position this season is .830. And there seems to be a logical blueprint for first base going forward, with both Michael Chavis and prospects Josh Ockimey and Bobby Dalbec potentially at the ready.

A lot has certainly changed in one year. Nobody knows that better than the guy who many thought would be currently playing first base for the Red Sox right now.