Boston's signings of Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval could impact Orioles' offseason

It's November, and the Boston Red Sox were bad last year, so why wouldn't they spend all of the money on free agents in order to rectify it?

In the span of a a few hours last night and this morning, Boston reportedly agreed to terms with third baseman Pablo Sandoval and infielder Hanley Ramirez, with money on the former not yet reported and Ramirez agreeing to four years and $88 million, according to reports.


Sandoval was last seen taking another World Series parade with the San Francisco Giants, on the heels of a season in which he hit .279 with 16 home runs in the regular season but starred in October.

On Ramirez, a career .300 hitter and former Boston farmhand, it doesn't even appear they courted him. He wanted to play with David Ortiz, because he probably doesn't remember what he did to the visiting dugout phone at Camden Yards.


With Xander Bogaerts tapped as the shortstop of the future, Ramirez might patrol in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park in left field. Ramirez has been playing the outfield in winter ball this year, and his signing completes a process for Boston that could impact the Orioles.

In both last year's trades that sent out John Lackey and Jon Lester and brought in outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, plus the signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, the Red Sox began to monopolize the outfield market with Shane Victorino, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, and Jackie Bradley Jr. also on the 40-man roster and vying for playing time.

The free-agent pool at that position is thin, and some of the top available players include former Orioles Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. Cruz was in Baltimore on a one-year deal in 2014, while the team paid a $2 million buyout to Markakis but still hope to re-sign him this offseason.

They might have more company in that category now. Teams who don't want to pay an ace's ransom to Boston for someone like Cespedes can surrender a draft pick and sign Cruz, or sign Markakis at no amateur cost. That, or they can bet on Colby Rasmus no longer being a disaster at the plate and Melky Cabrera not getting suspended again.

Cruz is probably the best power hitter on the market at any position, so even teams without an explicit outfield need can sign him to be a designated hitter. There aren't many alternatives if you're trying to get a bat.

So the options in the outfield market are thin, and with Boston hoarding so much outfield talent, the Orioles' hopes of re-signing Cruz and Markakis could ultimately take a hit.

And that's to say nothing of when the season starts.

Boston has proven that they can turn it around over the course of a winter, and with the Toronto Blue Jays still searching for a winning formula and the Tampa Bay Rays losing manager Joe Maddon and primed for a step back, the Red Sox could emerge as the biggest threat to the Orioles' division crown.