Manny Ramirez Signs Minor League Contract With Texas Rangers

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2013

Mannywood could be coming to Arlington.

According to the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant, Manny Ramirez and the Texas Rangers agreed to a minor league contract on Wednesday.

Grant later noted on Twitter that the Rangers made the move official:

The 41-year-old slugger will report to the Round Rock Express, Texas' Triple-A affiliate. Terms of Ramirez's contract should he be promoted to the majors have not been released at this time. 

According to a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ramirez has already been subjected to a drug test in Triple-A:

If the Rangers have any lingering doubts as to whether Manny Ramirez is playing it clean in his comeback bid, they should soon know the answer thanks to a curiously timed random drug test during the slugger's first week with Triple A Round Rock.

A source said on Thursday that all players who weren't on the 40-man roster were subjected to a drug test earlier this week. Included in the group was Ramirez, who twice has failed tests for performance-enhancing drugs.

General manager Jon Daniels declined to comment on the timing of the test, but said that the word from Round Rock indicates that Ramirez, 41, has been a model citizen after signing a minor-league contract last week with no guarantees of getting a promotion to the Rangers' roster.

"The reports have all been very positive," Daniels said. "The guys say he's been in the cage early and often, and generally has been a good influence." 

Manny spent the entirety of his early summer months playing for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League. During his time with the Taiwan-based club, Ramirez batted .352, belting eight home runs and knocking in 43 runs in 49 games.

Expected to return for the second half of the Chinese season, Ramirez suddenly parted ways with the club in June, looking for a chance to make a United States return. Ramirez's agent, Barry Praver, spoke with Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi about the move and the former Boston Red Sox great's desires. 

“The reason he decided not to return for the second half was to free himself to be available to play in the United States,” Praver said. "This whole thing with Manny in Taiwan was a phenomenon. He invigorated the league. Attendance went through the roof. It was a very positive experience for both sides."

Ramirez last played in the majors for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He had just one hit in 17 plate appearances (an .059 batting average) for the Rays before abruptly retiring in April. It later came to light that Ramirez had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and was facing a 100-game suspension for his second violation of the policy.

Though it was thought that suspension would end Ramirez's career, he pushed hard to make a comeback in 2012. He signed a minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics after reaching an agreement with Major League Baseball to have his suspension cut in half so that he could have a chance at making a comeback.

After serving the suspension, Ramirez's time in Triple-A did not go as planned. Sapped of his once prodigious power, the enigmatic slugger failed to hit a home run in 17 games with the A's Triple-A affiliate, though he did hit .302.

As it became clear that it was unlikely he would make Oakland's major league roster, Ramirez requested to be released and did not play for the remainder of the 2012 season.

One of the most beloved and controversial hitters of his era, Ramirez is known almost as much for his questionable antics as his hitting prowess. 

It's those infamous antics that the Rangers are reportedly looking to avoid. While a relatively minor note, Ramirez's hairstyle could be the first sign of his conformity. FOX Sports Southwest's Anthony Andro notes that Ramirez will have to cut his trademark dreadlocks and comply with the team's other rules as part of the agreement:

Should Ramirez keep his nose clean and perform on the field, this could be a great low-risk move for Texas. The Rangers are just 0.5 games out of first place in the American League West coming into Wednesday night, but they are in need of a right-handed slugger to breathe life into their lineup.

Ramirez is 14th on the all-time home-run list with 555 and a career .312 hitter. He's been named to 12 All-Star Games, won nine Silver Slugger awards and was the 2004 World Series MVP with the Red Sox.