Hanley Ramirez agreed to a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians on Saturday in hopes of making a comeback after the Boston Red Sox released him in the middle of last season, a source familiar with the agreement told ESPN.
Ramirez, 35, ended an ignominious four-year stretch in Boston with arguably the worst year of his career and sat out the remainder of the season following his June 1 release. He'll attempt to return with the Indians, who could have a roster spot at first base or designated hitter.
Cleveland's offense is its biggest question mark entering 2019, and the Indians have done next to nothing to address it, outside of deals that sent away Edwin Encarnacion and Yandy Diaz and netted Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers. The Indians' lone major league signing this offseason has been a one-year, $2.5 million deal for left-handed reliever Oliver Perez.
Santana is likely to slot in at first, provided Bauers can play a corner-outfield slot, which would leave the DH position available for Ramirez, who will join the Indians in major league camp once he passes a physical.
Ramirez's last deal was for four years and $88 million with the Red Sox, whose disastrous 2015 offseason led to a regime change and plotted the course for their 2018 World Series win. In three of his four seasons in Boston, Ramirez's OPS was below league average, and his .254/.313/.395 line last season led to Boston cutting bait and handing the full-time DH spot to J.D. Martinez and extra plate appearances to Mitch Moreland and eventually Steve Pearce.
A decade removed from his best season, Ramirez is no longer the lithe, athletic shortstop who could hit for average, power and steal bases. The Indians would be plenty happy with a run producer to fortify a lineup that needs it, particularly with star shortstop Francisco Lindor questionable to return by Opening Day because of a calf injury.