What does $190 million dollars over five years buy nowadays? If you are the Boston Red Sox, it appears that it will be a 28 year old third baseman nicknamed Panda and a 30 year old metrically challenged shortstop prone to injuries and a somewhat mercurial clubhouse personality with great offensive prowess. With conflicting reports swirling this morning, Pablo Sandoval (5 years, 100 million) and Hanley Ramirez (5 years, 90 million) have agreed to contracts with the Red Sox. While nothing is official yet the fantasy ripples of these moves are interesting. Where will Hanley play? Rumor has it that the Sox signed him to play left field. However, he’s only played 10 career games in the outfield and learning the Green Monster is difficult even for good outfielders. Oh yeah, and they also already have Yoenis Cespedes out there. What happens to he and Xander Bogaerts?
It is not a stretch to say that Boston needs to add some pitching for the upcoming season since right now the projected starters are Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Allen Webster along with whoever else they add going forward. Since their farm system is well stocked, it stands to reason that if the Red Sox do not get Jon Lester via free agency, they would be big players in the Cole Hamels trade market along with other pitchers on the block. This is a work in progress to say the least but the Red Sox are positioning themselves for a very eventful winter. As for the players they obtained today, here are their 2014 seasons first:
Pablo Sandoval 2014: 157 G, 68 R, 16 HR, 73 RBI .279/.324/.415
Hanley Ramirez 2014: 128 G, 64 R, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 14 SB .283/.369/.448
Not bad lines to be sure and even though Hanley was limited by injuries, his production in home runs and stolen bases with shortstop eligibility keeps him on our radars. But like Troy Tulowitzki, his inability to stay healthy (124 G average last three years) gives us caution for reaching on HanRam too soon in drafts. As for Pablo Sandoval, his consistency is clouded by the fact that people want him to be a power-hitting third baseman. But since his 2011 season with 23 home runs and a career high 16% HR/FB rate, his three season since have leveled out. He has averaged 14 home runs per year over that span. His HR/FB% the last three years are 9.5, 8.3, 8.6, which are solid but not spectacular. Sandoval’s career HR/FB% is 10.3 and is buoyed by his 2009 and 2011 seasons. With about 38-million per year for the two players combined here are their three year averages to see what the Red Sox are buying:
Pablo Sandoval 3 year average: 135 G, 60 R, 14 HR, 72 RBI .280/.335/.424
Hanley Ramirez 3 year average: 124 G, 68 R, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 15 SB .299/.368/.506
Whether you are a Red Sox fan or an interested fantasy owner, the biggest concern here has to be the games played per season for each player. Yes Sandoval’s games played have increased over the last three years while HanRam’s have been a yo-yo but given his propensity to streakiness, how will Panda react to the Boston media surge when he is in the throes of a slump? Ramirez should be more acclimated to the media crush after his time in Los Angeles but Red Sox Nation is nothing if not demanding. What will happen the first time Ramirez doesn’t run a ball out or is pouting about whatever he pouts about? Both players have talent and the ability to thrive in Boston if healthy.
For Sandoval, the Green Monster may become his best friend from both sides of the plate, San Francisco depresses power numbers but this is an area that should increase for Panda moving forward. Here is Sandoval’s slugging zone profile from last year:
A friend of mine asked me to research his home runs from the last three seasons in relation to Fenway and only one of his home runs would have been lost but I venture that he has more to gain in Boston. Here is his home run tracker from last year with the Fenway overlay:
As for Hanley Ramirez, his OPS over the last three years is .874 with Miami and Los Angeles as his home ballparks. The key here is not only keeping Hanley on the field, but keeping him happy. These signings are a clear message to the rest of the American League that Boston is once again going for it in 2015. It should be fun to see what moves come next, not only for Boston but for the rest of the American League, including the East. As for their respective fantasy numbers, both should see bumps in production hitting in a potent Boston lineup. I’d be comfortable paying for a Pablo Sandoval that hits 20 homers and .285+. It’s all about the health with Hanley, when he is on the field he produces at a high level. Averaging 19 homers and 15 steals over the last three seasons in only 124 games Ramirez can be fantasy gold when active. But predicting how many games he will play is the problem. If he can play 130 games this year then Ramirez can be worth the second round price tag. But that value will drop if he loses shortstop eligibility as he moves forward unless his production in Boston across all categories sees a huge jump. Feeling lucky?
Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/qPVZex (Ramirez), http://goo.gl/hhYxFA (Sandoval)
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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!