What has been suspected for the last few months, that Hanley Ramirez would not return to the Dodgers, is close to becoming reality, and now we know the likely destination. Ramirez is reportedly headed to Boston on Monday to finalize a deal "in the range" of five years, $90 million with the Red Sox, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Ramirez made $16 million in 2014, and turned down a qualifying offer from the Dodgers of one year, $15.3 million on Nov. 10. He was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic at age 16 by the Red Sox in 2000, and he made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2005, all of two plate appearances in two games before he was traded to the Marlins in November 2005.
It is unknown exactly where Ramirez will play in Boston, which has David Ortiz firmly entrenched at designated hitter, highly-touted Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, roughly 73 outfielders, and are trying to lure third baseman Pablo Sandoval as well, per both Rosenthal and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
But where Ramirez, who turns 31 on Dec. 23, will play in Boston is of no concern to the Dodgers, who know must look to find a replacement at shortstop. The options currently in-house - Erisbel Arruebarrena, Miguel Rojas and Ryan Jackson - are great upgrades defensively but can't hold a candle to Ramirez's bat, still a potent middle-of-the-order producer.
Ramirez hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 home runs and 35 doubles in 2014. Among the 263 major league hitters with at least 300 plate appearances last season, Ramirez ranked 30th with an adjusted weighted runs created (wRC+) of 135 and 34th with an adjusted OPS (OPS+) of 132.
Ideally the Dodgers could find a stopgap at shortstop for 2015, holding down the fort until top prospect Corey Seager is ready. On the free agent market, that could mean someone like Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew on a one-year deal, or the Dodgers could make a trade for someone like Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox (due $10 million in 2015, plus a $10 million option in 2016 or $1 million buyout) or Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies (due $11 million in 2015).
The one thing we do know is that, once Ramirez to the Red Sox is official, the Dodgers will receive a compensatory pick in between the first and second rounds. The Dodgers' own first-round pick, currently No. 26 overall, isn't affected by this signing because Boston had one of the 10 worst records in baseball in 2014 and pick seventh in the first round. That No. 7 pick is protected, so the Red Sox lose their next-highest pick, which is their second rounder.
Ramirez, acquired from the Marlins on July 25, 2012, hit .299/.368/.506 in 278 games as a Dodger, and his 41 home runs as a shortstop are third-most in franchise history, and two behind Rafael Furcal for the most in Los Angeles Dodgers history.