By landing two of the best hitters on the free-agent market this offseason, the Boston Red Sox continue a quest to re-energize their stagnant offense.

But the deals struck with Pablo Sandoval and reportedly Hanley Ramirez on Monday, do come with risks.

Sandoval, 28, a third baseman and World Series standout for the San Francisco Giants, has agreed to a five-year contract worth about $100 million. Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans said he got a call from Sandoval, who informed him he was leaving to play for the Red Sox.

Many media accounts also reported the Red Sox and Ramirez coming to terms on a four-year, $88-million deal – with a $22-million vesting option for a fifth year. Ramirez will be 31 next month.

The Red Sox have confirmed neither agreement, but have called a press conference for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Because Sandoval and Ramirez received qualifying offers from their previous teams, the Red Sox will have to forfeit two draft picks – in the second and third rounds. Boston’s first-round pick is protected because the Red Sox finished as one of the 10 worst teams last year.


Sandoval, a switch-hitter, is a career .294 batter with an .811 OPS. But his OPS has gone down each of the past four years (.739 in 2014), signaling that the Red Sox are writing big checks for a player possibly in decline. Sandoval’s weight (he’s listed as 245 pounds) is also a concern.

The Ramirez deal is more of a gamble given his age, injury history, unpredictable demeanor and lack of a position.

Ramirez, originally a highly touted prospect for the Red Sox, played for the Portland Sea Dogs in 2004 and ’05.

While Ramirez is a shortstop, Boston has a young star-in-the-making, Xander Bogaerts, at short.

Before news of the Sandoval deal surfaced, it was thought Ramirez would play third base. Now it looks like he will go to left field – a position he has only played in winter ball.

Ramirez, a right-handed batter, is a career .300 hitter (.873 OPS). He batted .283/.817 in 128 games last year.


Because of injuries, he has played only one full season the past four years.

Ramirez has a history of run-ins with managers and management, going back to his minor-league days with the Red Sox. When he was in Class A ball in 2003, the Red Sox suspended him twice for boorish behavior. The Red Sox director of player development at the time was Ben Cherington, now Boston’s general manager.

Ramirez came to Portland at the end of the 2004 season. He began 2005 at Hadlock but figured to be promoted during the season. But Ramirez underachieved (.271/.720) and stayed with the Dogs all year.

He received a brief call-up to Boston in 2005 (two at-bats, two strikeouts) and was traded in the offseason to the Marlins in a deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. Ramirez became an All-Star in Florida.

Boston’s attraction to hitters like Sandoval and Ramirez is obvious. The Red Sox went from scoring the most runs in the AL in 2013 (853) to finishing 11th out of 15 teams in 2014 (634).

Not coincidently, Boston won the World Series in 2013 and finished last in the American League East last season.


Cherington had already made moves to improve the offense, trading pitcher Jon Lester to Oakland for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and signing Cuban free-agent outfielder Rusney Castillo.

With Ramirez coming aboard, the Red Sox now have a glut of outfielders, including Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig and Jackie Bradley Jr.

Some of those outfielders could be used as trade bait for starting pitchers, which Boston needs. Besides Lester, the Red Sox traded away starters John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront during the season.

Cespedes, who is the current left fielder and has one year left on his contract, appears headed for a trade. The Reds and Padres, two teams with pitching depth and a need for a right-handed bat, have been identified as possible trading partners.

Other players who could go on the block are third basemen Will Middlebrooks and Garin Cecchini. Middlebrooks appeared to break out in 2012 but has struggled the past two seasons. Cecchini is a touted prospect who got a taste of the majors in 11 games last season.

Cecchini has also been playing left field in the minors, but Ramirez’s presence blocks him there. Middlebrooks and Cecchini could be sent to Pawtucket in 2015.


There is also the question of the Red Sox still going after Lester, who is a free agent. Lester has several teams interested in him – including the Cubs, Braves and possibly the Giants – and will not come cheaply. Boston has reportedly already offered a six-year deal for $120 million.

Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

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