According to Pedro Gomez of ESPN, the Oakland Athletics have agreed to sign free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez to a minor league deal.
|Photo Courtesy of NBC Bay Area|
There is a slight catch to the deal. Ramirez must serve a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy for the second time in the last four years, making him eligible to join the A's on May 30--his 40th birthday.
Ramirez played in just five games with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 before he was suspended. He announced his retirement shortly after, but has decided to come back to baseball in 2012 with the A's.
Ramirez's last good season came with the Dodgers in 2009, where he posted a .290 batting average, with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in 104 games. He was traded to the Dodgers at the 2008 trade deadline from the Boston Red Sox.
Ramirez owns 555 career home runs (14th on all-time list), with a career .312 batting average and .411 on-base percentage in 19 big-league seasons. His Hall-of-Fame status is questionable due to the previous drug allegations.
Despite his recent struggles, Ramirez has always been an on-base machine, the type of hitter A's General Manager Billy Bean has been known for cherishing. Ramirez fits Bean's "Moneyball" formula, as he has maintained a .400+ OBP in his last three full seasons.
The A's have not reached the playoffs since 2006, where they were swept by the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. The A's hope to rebuild their offense after signing the Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who expressed interest in playing with Ramirez according to ESPN.
I think the Ramirez deal is a good signing for the A's, especially at the $500,000 price tag. It's a low-risk option for a team who was desperately looking for an offensive spark (although they signed Cespedes, the Cuban defector is a question mark until he plays in a major league game).
If Manny performs in spring training, he simply does his thing as a DH when he gets back from his suspension. If he stinks it up in the spring, you let him walk.
I was a bit surprised Ramirez took such a low-ball contract. You know, with Manny being Manny, that always means big money--and more fanfare.
I think another consequence of Manny's signing is more fans at the Coliseum. Ramirez filled up Dodger Stadium when was traded there in 2008, giving the Dodgers an extra 3,000 fans on average per game.
Only time will tell if the soon-to-be green-beanied Ramirez will help the Athletics get back to respectability in the AL West, but with Manny Ramirez, nothing is ever for certain.
Will the signing of these sluggers be enough to compete in the American League West (Albert Pujols to the Angels, etc.)? Will Manny return to form? What effect will Mannywood have on the Coliseum and A's fans? Are you excited about the deal?
One more good question to discuss. Which offense is better? The A's or the Giants'?
Curious to hear your thoughts below!
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN were used in this report.