Following a forgettable 2014 season in which the Red Sox went from first to worst, general manager Ben Cherington and the front office wasted no time in landing free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. A big part of Boston’s struggles last season was the lack of offensive production, and following the trade-deadline day arrivals of right-handers Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, the Red Sox were in need of a left-handed power bat.
They got that and much more in Pablo Sandoval (aka Panda). Sandoval is a switch-hitting third baseman coming off his third World Series triumph in five years with the San Francisco Giants. Sandoval is known to be a big-time player when the lights are shining the brightest, he delivers. His .426 batting average in World Series games is second only to Red Sox’s own Big Papi, who leads the category with .455 amongst players with at least 50 at bats.
With a .366 batting average and a record 26 hits in the post season, you know Pablo Sandoval plays for October. The Red Sox not only get a switch hitter, but also a third-baseman, a position that no player has made his own following Will Middlebrooks’ inability to remain healthy and deliver consistently over the last two seasons. At 28, Sandoval is in his prime, and with a 5-year $95 million contract with a club option for a sixth season, this looks like a deal well done by the Red Sox.
The Red Sox’s second big acquisition was shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez is a career .300 hitter with three All Star appearances, a National League Rookie of the Year (2006) award and two silver-slugger awards with the Miami Marlins. He played for the Dodgers the last two seasons, but perhaps what is remarkable about his journey is that he was traded by the Red Sox in 2005 for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell.
Although, the deal worked out well for both sides, Ramirez said he was disappointed to leave the team that had drafted him as an International free agent when he was just sixteen. He was delighted to be back at Fenway Park and even agreed to play a new position, the left field, for the first time in his career. The Red Sox signed the 31-year-old Ramirez for a 4-year, $88 million contract with an option for a fifth year.
With two big acquisitions, the Red Sox have definitely added to their batting lineup the much-needed pop they were lacking last season. It is time to turn the attention to starting pitching. Having traded away four-fifths of their starting rotation last season, the Red Sox look poised to sign a free agent (remember Jon Lester) and use their substantial surplus of outfielders and pitching prospects for another veteran starting pitcher.