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Could Red Sox make it work with Hanley Ramirez on roster?

Hanley Ramirez was a problem in left field last season, but indifferent play at first base would be far more damaging.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The Red Sox would be best served by finding a way to trade Hanley Ramirez. It was a mistake to sign him, especially for four years, and the idea of him playing first base is unsettling.

You thought Ramirez was a problem in left field? Indifferent play at first base would be far more damaging.

But trading Ramirez could well be impossible. He has at least $66 million remaining on his contract; he ended last season on the disabled list and other teams certainly understand he can be a handful to manage.

So how could it work if Ramirez is still on the roster? Here are a few ideas:


Limit his starts: David Ortiz turns 40 later this month and to keep him productive, regular days off make sense. Ramirez could DH once a week.

At this stage in his career, Ortiz is not chasing any particular milestone. He is chasing another title and knows the time off would help.

Limit his playing time: Ramirez, who turns 32 next month, has a long history of injuries. He has missed an average of 48 games over the last five years due to a variety of issues.

So sit Ramirez once a week in the interest of keeping him healthy. Play Travis Shaw, Brock Holt or Blake Swihart at first base. If Ramirez sits once a week and DHs once a week, maybe he starts at first base only 100-105 times.

Limit his innings: Make it clear from the start that if the Red Sox have a lead in the seventh inning or later, Ramirez will come out for a defensive replacement. You could steal approximately 75 innings doing this and every inning he's not out there is a bonus.

Ortiz could retire after the coming season, allowing Ramirez to become a full-time DH. If a trade proves impossible, the Sox have to figure out a way to make it work. They're not going to release a player with that much money left on his deal.


A few other notes from the GM Meetings:

■ Unfortunately it was only a matter of time before an MLB player was charged with domestic abuse. Jose Reyes of the Rockies was arrested on Oct. 31 in Hawaii. Police allege he grabbed his wife, Katherine, by the throat and shoved her into a sliding glass door.

MLB announced it had a new domestic abuse policy in August that gives commissioner Rob Manfred widespread powers to punish players even when legal charges are pending.

In the wake of the NFL's embarrassing history with domestic violence, Manfred's actions will be carefully scrutinized. This is his first big test as commissioner.

■ In speaking to several executives, it's clear that Ben Cherington will not lack for employment opportunities. The consensus is that many of his moves will pay off long-term for the Red Sox and that several mistakes made on his watch were the product of decisions made above him.

■ Interesting to hear Dave Dombrowski say there is a lot of interest in the mid-rotation Red Sox starters, guys like Wade Miley and Joe Kelly. The guess here is that the rotation will change more than simply one pitcher being added.

■ Dombrowski deflected a question about who will start in center field, saying that is something John Farrell will determine.


Farrell kept Mookie Betts in center field even when Jackie Bradley Jr. was on the roster. That changed under Torey Lovullo. Also worth noting: Dombrowski wanted to trade for Bradley last winter and start him in center field for the Tigers.

To me it's pretty simple: If Bradley is in the lineup he should be in center field. He's one of the best 2-3 center fielders in the game. Yes, Fenway Park has a tricky right field. But more balls are hit to center field.

Whether it's taking away singles because he can play shallow or going into gaps, Bradley makes a bigger impact in center. He can field more balls in center, case closed.

■ Several closers are on the trade market based on the chatter here. Obtaining a closer and using Koji Uehara as a set-up man would improve the Red Sox in one move. One underrated aspect of the 2013 team was how reliable the bullpen was. The Sox need to amass a deep group and multiple closer types would be a great start.

I'd be leery of Aroldis Chapman. All those 100-mph pitches will take a toll on his arm at some point, no? Plus he'll be a free agent next season and you'll be paying for past production.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.