Hanley Ramirez didn't always leave a positive impression during his time with the Dodgers. (Getty Images)"We do keep open the prospect of signing a long term deal with a free agent, paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime.



An industry source has confirmed that free agent Hanley Ramirez is on his way to Boston to finalize a five-year agreement with the Red Sox.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter), free agent Hanley Ramirez is heading to Boston to finalize a deal with the Red Sox on Monday. Rosenthal reported that the agreement was “in the range of five years, $90M.”

Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican in 2000 but was traded by the organization (with Anibal Sanchez and others) to the Marlins as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the ‘€œclosest right-handed hitter to Manny [Ramirez] I have seen,’€ someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’€™s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched free agent Pablo Sandoval’€™s numbers against righties (he had a .283/.362/.439 line, compared to Sandoval’€™s .317/.363/.461) while proving even more impactful against lefties (.282/.393/.476). For his career, Ramirez has a higher OBP and roughly the same slugging percentage against righties as Sandoval and a massive advantage against lefties.

Still, a number of concerns appeared to dampen a potential free agent bonanza for Ramirez. Among them: He’ll be 31 in December, meaning that most of his next contract will fall outside of his career prime; he has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons; his defense at shortstop is poor, and while there is some belief in industry circles that he could represent a quality option at a corner position, his ability to adapt to a new spot represents something of an uncertainty; and concerns about his makeup with both the Marlins and Dodgers have been significant.

That said, those concerns were largely against the backdrop of expectations that a deal could reach more than five years and upwards of $20 million a year. The concerns still exist, but the risk undertaken by the Sox would appear to be at least somewhat diminished by the terms as reported by Rosenthal.

It remains to be seen what Ramirez’s role with the Sox will be. The Sox were one of three finalists for Ramirez’s fellow free agent, Pablo Sandoval. As midnight approached on Sunday night, the team had not given any indication to Sandoval’s representatives that it was no longer pursuing the 28-year-old switch-hitter.

Obviously, if the Sox fail to sign Sandoval, Ramirez would represent an immediate candidate to become the Sox’ starting third baseman. He would likely move off the position to flank Xander Bogaerts. But the team might also be able to fit both Sandoval and Ramirez in its lineup.

The Sox could sign Sandoval and Ramirez, putting Sandoval (who grades statistically and by evaluators as an above-average defensive third baseman) at third and Ramirez at short (thus displacing Bogaerts, who would either move to the outfield or become a trade candidate). Or — perhaps more likely — the team could have Sandoval at third while moving Ramirez (who grades as one of the worst defensive shortstops in the big leagues) to another corner position, most likely left field while keeping Bogaerts at short. In that scenario, the Sox might look to move Yoenis Cespedes.

It may take some time for the dust to settle to determine exactly how the Red Sox lineup will look. But Ramirez represents a bold and unexpected first stroke to the offseason, while permitting the team all manner of flexibility going forward this winter.

Both Christopher Meola (via twitter) and Jake Wesley (via twitter) reported earlier on Sunday that Ramirez’s deal with the Red Sox was all but finalized, with Wesley reporting that the length and salaries had already been determined. While industry sources told WEEI.com on Sunday evening that a Ramirez-to-the-Red Sox deal could come together quickly, Meola’s and Wesley’s initial reports remained unconfirmed until Rosenthal’s follow-up.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

According to an industry source, the Red Sox are in advanced conversations with free agent Hanley Ramirez, with the possibility that a deal “could come together quickly.” As of this afternoon, the source said, there was not an

According to a source, Pablo Sandoval’s decision on which team he will sign with will come next week and it looks like it will come down to the Red Sox, Giants or Padres. There is no mystery team.

According to an industry source, the Red Sox are in advanced conversations with free agent Hanley Ramirez, with the possibility that a deal “could come together quickly.” As of this afternoon, the source said, there was not an agreement between the sides, but the potential for a deal is real.

At this point, what is not clear is whether talks with Ramirez are as a third base fallback should free agent Pablo Sandoval sign with one of his other suitors (the Giants or Padres), or if the pursuit of Ramirez might be in conjunction with the pursuit of Sandoval, with Ramirez moving to left field and Sandoval at third base. If the Sox did pursue Ramirez, it could be part of yet another domino, with the possibility of trading Yoenis Cespedes increasing.

Ramirez is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the “closest right-handed hitter to Manny I have seen,” someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched Sandoval’s numbers against righties (he had a .283/.362/.439 line, compared to Sandoval’s .317/.363/.461) while proving even more impactful against lefties (.282/.393/.476). For his career, Ramirez has a higher OBP and roughly the same slugging percentage against righties as Sandoval and a massive advantage against lefties.

However, the Sox viewed Sandoval as their priority over Ramirez for a number of reasons, including age (Sandoval is 28; Ramirez turns 31 this winter), defense (Sandoval is an above-average defensive third baseman; Ramirez has been viewed as one of the worst defensive shortstops in the big leagues, and struggled in a half-season at third base with the Marlins), durability (Ramirez has averaged 121 games a year over the last five seasons, Sandoval 135) and makeup (Sandoval is viewed as a strong clubhouse presence, Ramirez was a polarizing figure with the Marlins prior to his trade to the Dodgers).

Still, the fact that Sandoval became the primary target did not eliminate the possibility of interest in Ramirez, particularly given that the 30-year-old, after spending almost all of his career at shortstop, has signaled a willingness in free agency to move to third base or the outfield.

News of the potential for the Sox to pursue Ramirez and Sandoval was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier
Red Sox beat writer Brian MacPherson joins Danny Picard to talk about the Red Sox going after Jon Lester and other free agents.

According to a source, Pablo Sandoval’s decision on which team he will sign with will come next week and it looks like it will come down to the Red Sox, Giants or Padres. There is no mystery team.

According to a source, Pablo Sandoval’s decision on which team he will sign with will come next week and it looks like it will come down to the Red Sox, Giants or Padres. There is no mystery team. The source adds the teams involved are believed to have been asked already to submit final offers.

Sandoval was in Boston this earlier this week with his representatives meeting with Red Sox officials and to see the city, as he had never been.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported Sandoval has offers from the Red Sox, Giants and Padres and his decision would likely come this week.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

It was an unusual Saturday morning for the Schilling family.