The Boston Red Sox are looking to put their disastrous 2014 season in the rear-view mirror. After finishing near the bottom of all of baseball in several offensive categories last season, the Red Sox are beefing up their offense with the addition of two of the top free agents on the market, according to several reports.
Ken Rosenthal was the first to report that Hanley Ramirez would return to his original organization on a five-year deal worth $90 million. [UPDATE: Rosenthal revised those terms to be four-years, $88 million with a fifth-year vesting option worth $22 million.] Ramirez is expected to move off of shortstop to either third base or left field. Ramirez began his career in the Red Sox organization and made his major-league debut with Boston in 2005 at age 21. He was traded to the Florida Marlins that off-season in the Josh Beckett deal and spent the next six-plus years as a member of the Marlins. During the 2012 season, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and he spent two-and-a-half seasons with LA.
Ramirez has had trouble staying healthy during his career, but he has been an offensive weapon when on the field. During his time with LA, Ramirez had an 874 OPS, although that came in only 278 games. Moving Ramirez off of shortstop -- where he has struggled with the glove anyway -- could help keep him healthier in the coming years. Ramirez hit better on the road than at home the past two seasons and should benefit from moving away from the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium to the hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
Whether Ramirez moves to third base or left field likely depends on if the reports that Pablo Sandoval has signed with Boston prove to be true. Jon Heyman of CBSSports is the only reporter definitively stating Sandoval is heading to Boston, and he is reporting the deal is worth $100 million over five years. Sandoval's agent told several other reporters that Sandoval has yet to decide and will come to a final decision on Monday. [UPDATE: John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is now reporting that Sandoval-to-Boston is a done deal.]
If Sandoval joins the Red Sox, he will give Boston a good fielding third baseman and a switch-hitter for the middle of the Red Sox line-up. Boston would be able to field a team with a heart of an order that has Dustin Pedroia, Sandoval, David Ortiz and Ramirez.
Sandoval has been durable the past two seasons with San Francisco, but he has been up-and-down with the bat. In 2014, he posted a 739 OPS in 157 regular season games. However, Sandoval was a one-man wrecking crew in the post-season, collecting 26 hits in 17 games. Like Ramirez, Sandoval would benefit from moving away from a pitcher-friendly home park to the hitter-friendly Fenway.
If Boston does sign both players, it could signal the end of Yoenis Cespedes' time in Boston. Under that scenario, Ramirez would move to left, where Cespedes has played during the majority of his major-league career. Boston has an over-abundance of outfielders right now, with Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley, Jr. all on the roster along with Cespedes and possibly Ramirez. Mookie Betts has also seen time in the outfield recently. The Red Sox could use Cespedes as a trade chip for starting pitching. Boston is thought to be the front-runner for free agent Jon Lester, but they may re-think any offer to Lester if they sign both Ramirez and Sandoval.