Say what you will about Manny Ramirez, but the only thing that the 40-year old is these days is persistent about staying in professional baseball.
Yes, Manny is still hanging around, even though the last few years of his MLB career have been a far cry from his productive younger days. His time this past off-season with Dominican pro league did not yield any interest from major league clubs, and it now looks as though the former Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox slugger will be taking his talents to Asia with Taiwanese club EDA Rhinos.
…at least for now, anyway.
The deal between Ramirez and the Rhinos had been in the works for some time, and won’t actually be finalized until March 7. If a major league team does decide to give Manny a call before then, the whole thing would be off.
That said, given his unsuccessful return from a 50-game PED suspension with the Oakland Athletics, it’s doubtful that he will find a suitor willing to take a chance.
Ramirez’s last days on a big-league field were with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, where the then 38-year old retired after playing just five games after being caught with the second violation of the league’s drug policy of his career.
Not that he was ready to leave the game. Manny applied for reinstatement to the game, and negotiated his suspension down to 50 games, before signing a minor-league deal with the Athletics and waiting patiently until he’d served his time.
By then, though, his power had disappeared, as the 19-year veteran was unable to hit a single home run for the A’s affiliates down in AAA after 17 games. There’s little doubt that Ramirez could still hit, but without the power, his value as a DH in the big leagues was significantly diminished.
Most folks will say that the 40-year old is washed up, and the sentiment is not without merit.
That won’t be so much of an issue for his new role with the Rhinos, however. Now an elder statesman of the game, Ramirez says that going overseas will ”be a new experience” for him to “experience another culture” and to keep doing the thing that he”d be one of the best in the world at for so long.
His performance in Taiwanese pro ball is unlikely to matter much. Ramirez will arrive with an air of celebrity, and he will carrying the legacy of his 69.6 fWAR accumulated over his career to, in part, help promote the game overseas.
It’s more of an ambassador’s role than that of a slugger, but it’s just what Manny needs to continue being Manny at this point of his career.