Valuing the 2011 free agent class: Manny Ramirez

Manny Ramirez is one of the more recognizable baseball faces of the past generation. Despite that, he seemingly has garnered zero interest this off-season. But that’s understandable- he’s old, has behavior issues few teams want to deal with at this stage in his career, has been hurt the past couple seasons, and “struggled” in 2010.

So who would want to sign him? If you were to ask me, I’d say the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays. They are losing Carl Crawford and Carl Pena, two players who have bolstered their lineup for the past few seasons. Even though Pena struggled in 2010, losing those two will be a blow to the offense. Manny Ramirez is one of the best hitters of all-time and even in his injury-plagued “down year” he still had a 141 wRC+ in 320 PA and an OBP north of .400. If you let him strictly DH, so that his body can rest and not deal with the rigors of fielding, I fully believe Manny will continue to produce at a .400 OBP/.500 SLG level of production. Tampa Bay could really use that production after losing two key offensive players- especially if they want to keep up New York, Boston, and even Toronto.

Now, you might ask, isn’t Manny Ramirez too expensive? The dood was paid $20mil last season. Tampa is too frugal to pay him a similar contract. You’re right. But Manny will not be getting paid much. According to this report, the best Manny will do this off-season is 800k to $5mil with incentives. Tampa Bay can afford that.

If Manny hits like he can, at the DH position, he could be a 2 WAR player. So that’s about $9mil-$10mil worth of value. Tampa Bay, as cheap as they are, will and can afford to pay someone that much if they will help the club. Manny can help the club. So if he is paid $2mil-$5mil, he could be a bargain. The best part for Tampa is that Manny will not cost them a draft pick, but when he leaves after 2011, he could net them a pick or two in return. It’s a win-win for Tampa.

Manny is looking for a new home and Tampa Bay is looking for a hitter. I think the two should get together for a little bit.

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