Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said manager Alex Cora suggested that the team designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.
Dombrowski said Cora wanted Mitch Moreland to play more, and that Ramirez would not handle coming off the bench well.
“We were prepared to go in a different direction with our move,’’ said Dombrowski Friday afternoon. “Alex called me and said ‘I have a thought for you about what we’re doing. This is a move I would like to recommend making.’’’
If he had reached 497 plate appearances this year, Ramirez would have been guaranteed another $22 million next season. He’d already accumulated 195, putting him on pace to secure his salary for next season. That was not a factor, according to Dombrowski.
“The vesting option had nothing to do with it,’’ said Dombrowski.
Dombrowski acknowledged that it was an unusual move, but one the team believes makes them a better defensive club.
“It is unusual, but it’s an unusual situation. Our club is quite deep,’’ said Dombrowski. “We do really like Mitch Moreland a lot. I mean, even to the point where as Alex had mentioned, there were certain righthanders he was sitting him against in order to get Hanley more time.
“Hanley started off very well early in the season. He was tremendous. He has really scuffled over the last time period. I think everybody acknowledges we’re a better defensive club when Mitch is in there. And so, we just didn’t see the role that would be there – as more of a support person – as one that fits Hanley well. So it is unusual, but we also think we’re pretty deep.’’
The team needed to make a move because Dustin Pedroia is returning from the disabled list after his rehab from offseason knee surgery. That puts Eduardo Nunez, who had received the majority of playing time at second base in Pedroia’s absence, on the bench.
“We have a couple guys that we really like in Nunez and [Brock] Holt still on our bench,’’ said Dombrowski. “It gives us some versatility. It is unusual, but it’s also one that we thought for the way our club stacked up is the one to make.’’
The Red Sox informed Ramirez of the decision at 3:45 a.m. when the team got back from Tampa Bay.
“He didn’t really say very much. There wasn’t much reaction at that particular time,’’ said Dombrowski.
Dombrowski was asked about the impact of the move on the clubhouse.
“I’m sure that any time you have a club together and you make a move with one of the players that have been with them, there’s always thought processes and players have feelings toward that individual,’’ said Dombrowski. “I think they also have feelings toward Mitch and they have feelings toward Blake, and Pedey coming back.
“I think that’s one where I have a lot of trust in Alex, and Alex has a pulse of that situation, and he felt when it came down to it it was a move that in that sense, he was not concerned about. He thinks that our club is a closely meshed one, and with the personnel that we have and the leadership that we have, that we’ll be able to handle that part of it.’’