Not a month removed from opting out of his contract in Taiwan, Manny Ramirez has found, at least temporarily, a roster back in the United States. At the time of his opt-out, I kept thinking to myself that no team would possibly be foolish enough to sign him, but here we are a day before Independence Day, and Manny Ramirez has been signed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers.
My initial reaction: why? Then again, considering this is most likely not a move motivated by the Nolan Ryan camp, I'm more inclined to believe that Jon Daniels had a reason for making this move. For one, it could be that there is more worry than initially disclosed about the health of DH Lance Berkman's right knee. Two, David Murphy has been among baseball's worst everyday players thus far in the season, and it could be that the team is either hoping Manny can still hit well enough to slide into that spot and share time, or at the very least, have a platoon scenario in place that would allow both players to succeed in specific roles.
Reports indicate that Ramirez will cut his hair to fit into the minor league guidelines that are in place in Round rock. According to Jon Daniels:
It’s a no-risk flyer in a lot of ways. Our history, we like giving guys second chances. We know on and off the field the good and bad of Manny’s career, but we’re inclined to give him an opportunity here.
When it comes to playing for the Rangers, two things are important to us. You have to be talented and prouductive. And just as important, you have to fit our winning culture. Those are going to be the two tests we’ll judge Manny by.
Ramirez hit .352 with 8 home runs and 43 RBI in 49 games for the EDA Rhinos in Taiwan.
If he’s producitive and we feel he’d fit our culture here, we’ll give him an opportunity. If either of those ends don’t pan out, no harm, no foul.
Whatever the case may be, the move, while surprising, isn't exactly what I'd call desperation, as it gives the Rangers a low-risk opportunity to see what Manny Ramirez has left in the tank at age 41. If he shows some life in his bat, it wouldn't surprise me to get one more shot at the Major League level. If not, the team can simply move forward and, quite possibly, pursue other options at the trade deadline.
This is one of those low-risk, high-reward propositions that Jon Daniels has managed to score on several times over the last few season. One can only hope this is another winning proposition for a team that could definitely use an infusion of energy in the lineup.