BOSTON (CBS) — It’s official: Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez are the newest members of the Boston Red Sox.
The team announced Tuesday afternoon that Sandoval, a two-time All-Star, signed a five-year contract that will have him in a Boston uniform through 2019. The Red Sox hold a club option for 2020.
Sandoval was formally introduced in a press conference at Fenway Park Tuesday.
“This is a guy who’s been a big winner, he’s been a performer when it counts the most,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “He’s respected as a teammate, loves to play, and we think really fits what we’re all about here. We’re really looking forward to having him in a Red Sox uniform in the middle of our lineup for years to come.”
About five hours after introducing Sandoval, the Red Sox confirmed a four-year deal with former Boston prospect Hanley Ramirez.
“We are good friends, we have a good relationship,” Sandoval said of Ramirez. “Being in the rivalry, now being in the same team, it’s going to be fun. He’s such a great guy, man. He’s funny, he loves his teammates.”
Sandoval, a switch-hitting third baseman, batted .279 with 16 homers, 73 RBIs and .739 OPS. For comparison’s sake, that .739 OPS would have ranked third on the 2014 Red Sox, behind only David Ortiz (.873) and Mike Napoli (.789 in just 119 games played).
The 28-year-old hit well in the playoffs en route to the Giants winning the World Series. He batted .366 with seven doubles and an .888 OPS, which led the team. His 26 hits set the all-time record for most in a single postseason. In 39 games in his postseason career, he owns a .344 batting average and .935 OPS, thanks to 13 doubles and six home runs.
“It was a tough decision for me,” Sandoval said of leaving San Francisco. “It took me a long time to be sure that I’m going to make the right decision. It’s similar, but the Giants gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues, opened the door, taught me how to respect the game. The Giants fans are one of the best.
“But I want a new challenge. I need a new challenge. … That’s what I made sure, that I made the right decision.”
Cherington noted that Sandoval was a primary target for the Sox, and added: “There’s a lot about Pablo that appealed to us. Obviously fitting the lineup, fitting the team and the clubhouse and the market, we feel coming from a place that has some similarities to Boston. Everything about him that we learned through our research suggested that he’s just a guy who loves the game, loves to play, loves to win. So we want that type of person in our clubhouse.”
Ramirez was introduced at a press conference Tuesday night.
“It’s not often that we have a chance to bring back an elite offensive talent. We’re excited to have him back,” Cherington said.
A three-time National League All-Star, Ramirez, 30, hit .283 with 35 doubles, 13 home runs, 71 RBI, 56 walks, and 14 stolen bases in 128 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. Ramirez is the only major leaguer with at least 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases in each of the last nine seasons beginning in 2006, his first full big league campaign.
“This is home to me,” Ramirez said. “Talking to the team you always dreamed to lift that trophy with, I wanted to make happen.”
The team also announced that first baseman/catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielder Juan Francisco were designated for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster.
Lavarnway, 27, is a .201 hitter with a .565 OPS in 97 career MLB games. Francisco, 27, had been claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. The left-handed batter played 106 major league games in 2014, all for Toronto, and hit .220 with 16 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs, and 43 RBI.
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