Former Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians slugger Manny Ramirez is expected to sign a contract with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in early March, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 12, at 10:25 a.m. ET by Tim Daniels
Ramirez has signed a $25,000-per-month contract with the Rhinos for a season that runs from March to November, according to the Associated Press. For comparison's sake, Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk reports the minimum MLB salary equates to around $85,000 per month.
---End of update---
Ramirez, who hasn't played in the major leagues since a short stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, signed with the Oakland Athletics before last season with hopes of making a comeback. It never materialized and he was released.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTradeRumors.com translated the original report—including a comment from the 40-year-old star—and stated a lack of interest from around the league forced Ramirez to pursue other avenues to keep playing.
"It will be a new experience, experience another culture while I keep doing what I love and all I've done in my life, playing baseball," Ramirez said.
Ramirez was once among the most feared hitters in the game, combining plenty of power with a terrific eye at the plate. But he hasn't shown that form in quite some time, which makes it no surprise American teams haven't shown much interest.
In his aforementioned stint with the Rays, he went 1-for-17 in five games and didn't draw a single walk. His bat speed diminished over the years, making it tough for him to catch up with fastballs while still protecting himself against off-speed pitches.
It also didn't help that he's already been suspended twice for violations of the league's drug policy. The first one came in 2009 while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his second in 2011 as he was trying to fit in with the Rays, leading him to retire for a while.
When you combine that type of baggage with the fact Ramirez's remaining ability is limited, signing him probably doesn't seem worth the risk, even for American League clubs that could use a designated hitter.
His deal with the EDA Rhinos won't become official until March 7, which gives him another week to see if a team comes calling during spring training, but that's a long shot.
Most likely, he will head to the Taiwan-based team and showcase how much ability he has left. He'll probably become a fan favorite in the process.
Just Manny being Manny, as they say.