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Red Sox Set To Sign Hanley Ramirez, Sandoval Could Still Be In Picture

Tony Consiglio

Tony Consiglio is a lifelong baseball fan and has worked for television and radio stations throughout New England.

Well, that escalated quickly.

Just hours after reports began to emerge that the Red Sox were closing in on signing Hanley Ramirez, the two sides reportedly reached an agreement late Sunday night. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Ramirez will join the Red Sox on a deal in the range of five years and $90 million.

News first started to leak Sunday afternoon on Twitter. Well-sourced Christopher Meola first reported that a deal between Ramirez and Boston was already finished. Though not a journalist, he was also first to break the news of Giancarlo Stanton‘s record-breaking deal with the Marlins. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman later confirmed negotiations between Ramirez and the Red Sox had intensified. Rosenthal capped the rumors before long.

The move confirms what the baseball world already knew: the Red Sox don’t intend on spending another year in last place. And it’s clear they don’t want to wait too long before they become contenders again.

The Ramirez signing is an aggressive move that gives Boston arguably the best bat on the market, and it returns him to the organization that gave him his start. Traded away by the Red Sox in a deal with the Marlins that landed them Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, Ramirez went on to shine in Miami, establishing himself as one of the best shortstops in the game, winning the Rookie of the Year award and becoming a perennial MVP contender.

He fought his way through a couple of injury-filled and underwhelming seasons, reemerging as an offensive weapon in Los Angeles. During an abbreviated 2013 season, he hit .345/.402/.638 with 20 home runs. His 5.4 WAR was the third best of his career. Last season, his .817 OPS was tops among all shortstops.

The big question now is where Ramirez will play in Boston. Shortstop would seemingly be out of the question with Xander Bogaerts firmly entrenched there. Third base would be the next logical choice, but there may be a hitch in that plan.

The Red Sox have been making a hard push for Pablo Sandoval and will likely not back off. Badly in need of a left-handed power bat, there is a natural fit. He spent some time in Boston last week and the Red Sox reportedly made him a five-year offer in the $95 million range. The Boston Globe‘s Nick Carfado said over the weekend, it was enough to put the Red Sox in the lead in the bidding for his services.

Cafardo also reported, though, that the Giants have stepped up their offer in the wake of Boston’s. But, the Padres’ could be the largest of all, at least according to the San Francisco Chronicle‘s John Shea. Still, he believes the Red Sox may be the favorites, and that Sandoval will likely make his decision this week.

If Boston does land Sandoval as well, that would seemingly complicate the Ramirez matter. Ramirez could conceivably play anywhere in the infield, but there wouldn’t be a spot for him. Sandoval, Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli already have those jobs claimed. There is the possibility that Boston could trade Bogaerts and Ramirez could stay at shortstop. But the highly-regarded Bogaerts has been nearly untouchable in the past and any deal involving would likely have to be for a young, control-able ace to help fill the void in the rotation.

It’s possible Ramirez could shift to the outfield, but he has limited experience there, and it would only add to that logjam. As it is, the Red Sox will have to move at least one of their outfielders. Adding both Ramirez and Sandoval would probably mean having to deal more.

Regardless of what happens with Sandoval, the Red Sox have broken the ice on what will surely be an active offseason. They have plenty of needs and money to spend. And they are already committing a lot of it before Thanksgiving, and there could be more when Sandoval makes his decision. Then, there’s the biggest potential contract of all: the one that will go to Jon Lester. And that could be next.