There are many things in life you are taught to just say NO to. Some examples include drugs, gas station sushi, Keystone Ice, a date with your second cousin, and lollipops from strangers driving all-white cargo vans. For the Baltimore Orioles, there is just one thing to say NO to this offseason. His name is Hanley Ramirez.
For some reason, the Orioles have become viewed as a potential landing spot when the Boston Red Sox try and unload Ramirez after just a single year in Beantown. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, there are no returns on poor free-agent purchase, even if you save the receipt. Now, the Red Sox have only one option — try their best to re-gift Ramirez to one of their American League brethren in need of a designated hitter. In this Hot Stove season, Ramirez is the ugly sweater that gets tossed back into the gift bag at the last second when you realize you’re running late for Secret Santa at the office Christmas party.
The Orioles may very well need offense for next season, especially if Chris Davis walks. That’s not exactly what Hanley would bring, and there is certainly no guarantee he would even be able to stay on the field. Since 2010, Ramirez has managed to get on the field over 130 times only once. The former All-Star shortstop played 86 games in 2012, 128 in 2013, and only 105 in his first year with the Red Sox. His injuries last year tamped down his OPS+ to a career-low value of 90. Ramirez slashed only .249/.291/.426. The low on-base number is shockingly bad for a hitter with a career OBP of .367. At this point of his career, Ramirez is a full-time DH. The gas station sushi previously mentioned is a slightly more appetizing option than watching him play first base or left field.
When Ramirez has been injured throughout his career, he has not been the type of player who has shown any ability to play through the pain or shake off rust. When he played only 92 games for the Florida Marlins in 2011, he batted just .243. Ramirez followed that up the next year by hitting .246 in 93 games before the Marlins found someone willing to take the mercurial star off their hands. The three-time All-Star was clearly over Miami by the end of his tenure there. Things were a little better in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, but there are still plenty of questions about Ramirez’s level of effort and demeanor on the field. Rejoining the Red Sox and teaming up with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz was supposed to set a fire under Ramirez, but it did not.
The Orioles have one of the most tightly-knit clubhouses in the league with a no-nonsense star in Adam Jones and a no-nonsense manager in Buck Showalter. Neither would be willing to accept the baggage and act of Hanley Ramirez in the clubhouse. Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop, two budding All-Stars, do not need to be around a potentially poisonous influence as they continue to mature as ballplayers.
Beyond just dealing with the possible Hanley headaches, the Orioles just flat-out do not have a need for Ramirez even if the Red Sox are willing to eat the entirety of the money left on his contract. If the Orioles lose Davis, they lose the one real left-handed threat in their lineup. Going out and adding another right-handed bat that is most likely past its expiration date for big-league productivity would be a very poor choice.
To top it all off, taking Ramirez off the hands of the Red Sox would be playing right into what a big-time divisional rival wants to do. Boston is not the type of team who needs to worry about the cost of paying Hanley Ramirez to play for someone else. At this point, they will do so quite gladly. Getting Ramirez out of the clubhouse will allow the Red Sox to continue strengthening their lineup with free-agent purchases. Baltimore’s own Chris Davis could become a primary target for the Red Sox if they can get some poor sucker to bite on Ramirez. How much of a slap in the face would it be for the Orioles to have aided the Red Sox in their pursuit of Davis by taking the damaged Hanley goods? Quite a painful slap in my opinion.
The Hanley-to-the-Orioles talk seems like pure speculation at this point. The Orioles may be willing to listen only because of Dan Duquette’s history with Ramirez from his first stint in Boston. That’s about as far as it should go. This is one dark alley the Orioles do not need to go down. Generally speaking, when someone offers you something questionable for free, the best course of action is to run screaming. That’s exactly what the Baltimore Orioles should do when it comes to Hanley Ramirez.