Red Sox Reportedly Eyeing Hanley Ramirez

Nick PoustCorrespondent IINovember 29, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 22:  Shortstop Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins throws to first base against the Atlanta Braves on August 22, 2009 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox traded one of their top prospects, shortstop Hanley Ramirez , to the Florida Marlins during the 2005 offseason.

In the deal, Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell came to Beantown, and both produced for the Red Sox.

They helped bring the franchise a championship in 2007.

But Ramirez also flourished with the Marlins.

He won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2006 by hitting 17 homers, 46 doubles, 11 triples, while driving in 59, swiping 51 bases, and scoring 119 runs.

The following season, he had 29 homers, 48 doubles, 212 hits, 81 RBI, and hit .332 with a .386 on-base percentage. After a similar 2008 campaign, he clubbed 24 homers and drove in 106 while batting .342 this past season.

The Red Sox kept an eye on the budding pro-turned-superstar, and with these statistics it would have been hard not to.

Currently, the Red Sox don’t have a shortstop.

They lost Alex Gonzalez to free agency and the Toronto Blue Jays. In response to his departure, they expressed interest in free agent Marco Scutaro. They also spoke to the Arizona Diamondbacks about the availability of Stephen Drew.

Evidently tired of searching for average shortstops, they have turned their attention to the 25-year-old Ramirez.

Their former top prospect is due nearly $50 million over the next five years, relatively inexpensive given his talent-level.

But the Marlins, with a payroll well under $30 million, simply may not be able to afford to hand out that kind of cash.

This is where the Red Sox come in.

In need of a shortstop, they are a franchise that can easily dole out millions upon millions...just like candy. They contacted the Marlins, and the porous franchise apparently listened intently.

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that "the Red Sox are reportedly engaged in talks with Florida about reacquiring the All-Star shortstop."

This is music to my ears.

Ramirez is only 25 and he is the best shortstop in baseball.

He would sure-up a hole that’s been gaping since Nomar Garciaparra left in 2004, and bolster an already formidable lineup.

Can you imagine a Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Ramirez threesome atop the Boston lineup?

To make this happen, the Red Sox would have to give up major league-ready talent, which means starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, and a few of their top prospects—most likely three in a group consisting of shortstop/pitcher Casey Kelly, pitchers Michael Bowden and Daniel Bard, and outfielders Ryan Westmoreland and Josh Reddick.

The package would have to be pretty overwhelming, and would presumably deplete their farm, but if they could somehow get the Marlins to take Kelly, Bowden, Westmoreland, and another prospect not named Reddick, Bard, or Buchholz, I would pull the trigger.

Ramirez is a rare talent with power, speed, and plate discipline.

The Red Sox have players with power, speed, and plate discipline, but not one with all three attributes.

Their roster is old, which could keep their management from giving up an array of touted prospects, but Ramirez’s youth and talent would help them in the short term and, given they would still have plenty of players roaming on the farm, allow the Red Sox to stay extremely competitive longterm.

Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein and Owner John Henry watched arch rival New York win the World Series.

This offseason, they have sought out to improve in order to overtake the Yankees.

They want to celebrate next year just as New York did this year.

Hanley Ramirez could help them achieve their goal.