The Hanley Ramirez left-field experiment seems to be coming to an end, with the 31-year-old telling the Boston media that he will be moving to first base for the 2016 season.
Boston may even try to get him some games there before the end of the 2015 season, in order to help the transition. The move appears to be two-fold, helping the Red Sox defensive alignment while trying to get Ramirez back on track offensively.
After signing Ramirez to a four-year, $88 million contract this past winter, the Red Sox were hoping for more of the player that hit .283/.389/448 with the Dodgers just a season ago. Those numbers would have been perfect to slide into a lineup with David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and another newcomer, Pablo Sandoval.
Ramirez did get off to a good start, hitting .293/.341/.659 in April. But in the 82 games since then, he has hit .244/.284/.376. Defensively, he has the worst marks in all of baseball with -19 Defensive Runs Saved and a -16.7 Ultimate Zone Rating.
A move to first base would allow the Red Sox to explore a more athletic and defensively apt outfield, using Jackie Bradley Jr. every day along with Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo.
Travis Shaw also is affected by this move. The 25-year-old is having a career year, hitting .325/.376/.600 with six homers in 93 plate appearances. Those numbers are rather shocking when looking at his career minor league line of .261/.359/.445. Shaw was playing well enough to get some regular time at first base next season, but has played third base in the minors and still has roster value.
With $68.25 million left on Ramirez's contract, the Red Sox are pressed to make this situation work out. They need Ramirez's bat in the lineup to be producing and a switch to a different position may allow him to get back to his old offensive ways, and to not be such a liability defensively.