The Indians on Tuesday officially announced the signing of Hanley Ramirez to a minor-league deal with an invitation to camp.
With Ramirez, 35, the Indians are able to take a low-risk chance on a former star, who recently struggled with the Boston Red Sox.
Ramirez is a former MVP runner-up (2009) and a three-time All-Star, but in three of his past four years — all with the Red Sox on an $88 million deal — he finished the season with negative fWAR and a wRC+ below 100, which is league average.
Still, there is upside, particularly with a minor-league deal and little financial risk. Even as he struggled, Ramirez maintained his ability to pound left-handed pitching, posting an .854 OPS against lefties last season to go with a career .895 mark. Ramirez also had a resurgent year of sorts in 2016, belting 30 home runs and driving in 111 en route to an .866 OPS.
If the Indians can get anywhere close to that level of production, or at least an option as a platoon designated hitter, the low-risk signing can pay off.
“The hope is [he is] a middle-of-the-order-type bat,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters in Goodyear, Ariz. “He can play first base, but we have guys that can do that. DH is what we would look at.”
Francona also told reporters in Goodyear, Ariz. that the Indians will give him some time before throwing him into Cactus League games.
“I know we need to get a look at him, but I think you can rush it and mess it up,” Francona said. “We don’t want to do that.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.