Heyman: Rays Sign Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon

Andrew Friedman expressed a desire to add a bat or two to the Tampa Bay Rays throughout this entire off-season. According to Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman, he has done just that. In addition to the earlier reports of Johnny Damon, the Rays have also signed Manny Ramirez. Heyman says Damon will get $5.25 million dollars plus bonuses based on attendance (should be interesting to see how that goes). Ramirez, on the other hand, comes at the bargain price of $2-million. Both deals are pending physicals.

Though both players are clearly in the twilight of their careers, they are both still very productive. Damon posted an OPS of .756 last year including an on-base percentage of .355. He is an above-average baserunner and had 49 extra-base hits. Ramirez’s .869 OPS would have been second best on the 2010 Rays and his .409 on-base percentage would have led the team. Ramirez has been training in Arizona looking to have a strong comeback from his injury filled 2010.

Since the Rays were eyeing both players as a primary DH at one point, one of them will have to play the field more often than not. Look for that player to be Damon. He is a little worse than average, but can still play left field as well as some first base. This means outfield prospect Desmond Jennings is almost certain to start the season in the minor leagues.

As it stands, the Rays outfield will most likely consist of Damon, B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce, and Ben Zobrist. Zobrist will also split time at second base with Sean Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Ramirez should be the team’s primary designated hitter with the occasional day in the outfield.

Joe Maddon’s biggest problem will be putting together the best batting order and fitting all the pieces together, but it is a problem he welcomes with open arms.