July 21, 2024

The Rays have released designated hitter/outfielder Harold Ramirez following his DFA last week, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. He is now a free agent and can sign with any team.

Ramirez appeared to be destined for the free agent market following his DFA. As we highlighted when he was designated for assignment, the 29-year-old’s mix of offensive difficulties and a significant contract obligation made him a virtual lock to clear either outright or release waivers. And, because he reached five years of major league service time earlier this season (and so obtained the right to keep his salary even if he rejected an outright assignment), there was no actual difference between the two forms of waivers in his situation.

Tampa Bay looked at trades involving Ramirez before the offseason’s non-tender deadline and again throughout spring training, but were unable to find a suitable deal. That was despite Ramirez’s strong performance in 2022-23, when he slashed.306/.348/.432 in 869 plate appearances, with a special flair for pounding left-handed pitchers. Despite his strong offensive output, Ramirez lacks defensive value — he’s a terrible defender in the outfield corners and at first base — and is a free-swinger who seldom draws walks. He’s primarily a designated hitter for the Rays.


It's late February and Harold Ramirez is still a Ray. Will he stay?


Ramirez has found the 2024 season challenging. He is hitting.268 is a perfectly good record, but it is accompanied by an ugly.284 on-base percentage and a punchless performance.305 slugging percentage. He is hitting.310 in 58 plate appearances against lefties, but he only walks thrice and has a.379 slugging percentage. Ramirez has primarily been a singles-hitting, short-side platoon designated hitter. Because of his lack of walks and power, his overall offensive performance has been 27% lower than the league average, as measured by wRC+.

Given his problems, it’s not surprising that neither team wanted to commit nearly $2.2 million to Ramirez through a waiver claim. But now that he’s a free agent who will pay the prorated minimum, Ramirez is a considerably more intriguing flier who should pique the interest of many teams, particularly those that have struggled against left-handed pitching. Speculatively, the Reds, Nationals, Rangers, and Cardinals all rank in the lowest third of the league in terms of DH and left-handed productivity. However, considering the low cost of acquisition now connected with Ramirez—who can be controlled through the 2025 season via arbitration—it’s simple to build a case for the majority of teams taking a no-risk roll of the dice on his right-handed bat.

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