Hanley Ramirez played the entire 2014 season not knowing where he would be playing in 2015.
While the shortstop denied that the impending contract situation affected his play, Ramirez failed to hit like he did in 2013 and his defense also suffered. It was reported that the Dodgers were in negotiation with Ramirez and his agent earlier in the year before the attention was turned to the field.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, manager Don Mattingly believes his shortstop had more on his mind than just baseball:
Mattingly thought Hanley was affected by contract status.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) October 9, 2014
Ramirez ended the year hitting .283 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs in 128 games. He suffered a handful of injuries this season, missing short amounts of time throughout the season. The former All-Star committed 16 errors and was often replaced late in games for defensive purposes.
After his strong 2013 campaign, the consensus was that the Dodgers were going to lock up Ramirez to keep him in Los Angeles for a few years. That talk quickly ended once a deal was not done before the season and Ramirez said his focus was on helping the team on the field. He left all negotiations to his agent, but a deal was never done. The 30-year-old heads into free agency for the first time in his career, unless the Dodgers extend the one-year qualifying offer. That offer would allow the Dodgers to bring Ramirez back for $15.3 million and would allow them to get a compensation draft pick if he signs elsewhere.
As the off-season gets underway, it will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do with the slugging shortstop. His defense did improve in the final month of the year; however, some believe he is better suited as a third baseman. If the team can find a way to get Ramirez at a reasonable price, he may be in Los Angeles for the significant future.