While it may seem unlikely that the Florida Marlins would trade their brightest star and the player generally regarded as the face of their franchise, there have been whispers about a potential move that could return embattled shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the Boston Red Sox, the team that originally signed him as an amateur free agent.
Once considered Boston's shortstop of the future, Ramirez was traded to the Marlins in November 2005 in a blockbuster deal that also included Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia in exchange for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota.
At the time, the move was controversial among many Red Sox fans, as they were reluctant to part with the electric Ramirez in exchange for Beckett, Mota and Lowell, who was coming off a career-worst 2005 season, and was included as a salary dump for the cost-conscious Marlins.
Those doubters in Boston were right, as Hanley went on to become one of the game's most-thrilling stars, becoming a dynamic package of power and speed nearly unrivaled around the league.
However, the deal worked out for the Sox as well, as Lowell resurrected his career in Boston, and Beckett went on to become one of the top pitchers in the AL. Both players had huge seasons in 2007 and were integral to the Sox winning their second World Series in four years.
Fast forward to 2011. The Red Sox, despite spending massively in free agency over the offseason, have had an uneven season—struggling, dominating, then struggling again. It may seem ridiculous to consider the first-place team in the talent-laden AL East as struggling, but after the acquisitions of premium talents Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Sox were expected to run away with the title from Opening Day.
A slew of injuries to key players—Crawford, Pedroia, Dice-K, Buchholz and Lester, among others—have kept the Sox from reaching the heights many feel they are capable of.
Currently, the Red Sox have two capable shortstops on the big league roster, but Jed Lowrie is injured, and Marco Scutaro was before that, causing regular instability at the critical position. Lowrie had been holding down the position solidly, hitting .270 with a .723 OPS. He is, however, on the DL with a bruised nerve in his shoulder and may not return before August.
Scutaro, the Opening Day shortstop, has also struggled with injury this season and is currently hitting .259 with a .691 OPS.
The shortstop situation is generally considered only temporary until Boston's No. 2 prospect (according to Baseball America), 21-year-old Cuban defector Jose Iglesias, is ready for Major League action. He received a brief call-up in May, but only started one game and is once again in Pawtucket working on his offensive game. Iglesias is considered a wizard with the leather, but so far, his bat is lagging severely behind his glove, as he is only hitting .227 with a meager .519 OPS.
So is there a chance the Red Sox could be interested in the return of their one-time prodigy? It depends a lot upon what they think of the development of Iglesias and how far he is from the majors. Hanley is also in the midst of the worst start to a season in his career
This doesn't depend solely on the wishes of Boston either. The Marlins are due to move into a new stadium next season and are perhaps highly-reluctant to trade the highest-profile player on their team ahead of that transition.
Hanley Ramirez has had issues in Florida though, as run-ins with coaches and teammates have tarnished his reputation in past seasons. Though extremely talented, the 27-year-old star has worn out his welcome in some eyes, and a change of scenery could potentially benefit all parties involved.
Let's take a look at some of the various aspects involved in a potential deal to bring Hanley Ramirez back to Boston and see if it even stands as a realistic possibility.