Why a clause in Hanley Ramirez’s contract makes him difficult to trade

Hanley Ramirez hits a two-run RBI double in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during game three of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 8, 2017.
Hanley Ramirez hits a two-run RBI double in the seventh inning against the Houston Astros during game three of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park on October 8, 2017. –Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

As the Red Sox examine what should be done in the offseason, Hanley Ramirez’s contract keeps coming up. The mercurial slugger, whose Major League career came full circle when he returned to Boston as a free agent in Nov. 2014, has been mentioned in trade rumors.

His potential trade value (and the desire of the Red Sox to move him) was recently brought up by NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich:

And as Drellich pointed out, there is a particular clause in Ramirez’s contract that would trigger a fifth year at his current salary ($22 million).

The vesting option is this: If Ramirez totals 1,050 plate appearances combined in 2017 and 2018 (the third and fourth years of his current deal), he automatically gets another year in his contract for 2019.

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In 2017, Ramirez had 553 plate appearances, meaning he needs 497 in 2018 to trigger the option for 2019. Admittedly, this isn’t a guarantee. Aside from any assumptions about his level of play next season, Ramirez has reached 497 plate appearances in three of the past five seasons.

This could add just enough uncertainty in a potential trade partner’s mind about Ramirez’s status that they might not want to make a deal. Also, some teams might not want to have Hanley for two years instead of just one. Complications aren’t conducive to trades.

So as Boston continues to explore its options in the offseason, concerns such as Ramirez’s plate appearances in 2018 are just one of the many things that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has to consider.