Hanley Ramirez

Maybe the most coveted after free agent this offseason is Hanley Ramirez, coming off two and half years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. There’s more than a slight chance he simply re-signs with them, but he’s also getting plenty of interest from the Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants.

Ramirez actually began his career as part of the Red Sox organization, but was traded to the Marlins as part of the deal that got Josh Beckett to Boston after only two games with the Sox. At 30, Ramirez who has spent most of his career playing at shortstop, will probably be required to move to third base on account of his declining defense.

The problem for Ramirez is that quite a few players are out there and are good enough for team to pursue at third base. With salary demands that are around $75 million on a four year deal, there’s competition that might be just as productive as him, or possibly younger, but definitely cheaper. If the Dodgers do re-sign Ramirez who made $16 million last season, they’ll probably trade away Juan Uribe, as the idea of keeping such a loaded roster of hitters seems no longer as appealing.

The Astros are an interesting option after years of being in the basement of baseball. They have a lot of interesting up and coming infielders with Carlos Correra, Colin Moran and Rio Ruiz who’ll probably be making their major league debuts next season. With that kind of young talent on the rise, is it really wise to sign Ramirez on such a huge deal? The Mariners might be the most aggressive in the pursuit, hoping to finally get some sort of edge after missing out on the playoffs again in the tough AL West.

Ramirez, a rookie of the year, three-time All-Star and two time Silver Slugger hasn’t been consistent in his production over the last three years. He hit a .283/.369/.448/.817, all significant drop offs from his previous season. He did hit 71 RBIs with 13 home runs in 128 games. A new position and maybe a new home can give him a new motivation which has always been his main problem with the Dodgers, and bring up his numbers again.

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