Hanley Ramirez appeared at a fundraiser last night for the Florida Marlins Community Foundation, and as expected, he received many questions about the recent rumors that the Marlins are pursuing free agent shortstop Jose Reyes. As both Reyes and Ramirez play shortstop, the common assumption has been that if the Marlins sign Reyes, they would ask Ramirez to switch positions.
The only hitch is no one knows if Hanley Ramirez wants to switch. Some players are very hesitant to move from the position they have played their whole lives, and stars can sometimes view a switch as an assault on their ego.
Despite all the questions last night, Ramirez didn't make it clear if he would be okay switching positions or not. His responses were ambiguous, to say the least:
Ramirez, who will take part in Friday's Miami Marlins unveiling, would love to share the same uniform with Reyes, saying: "He's a pretty good player and I think the organization needs him. Otherwise, what can I say?" (Juan Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel)
But Ramirez wouldn't say whether he'd welcome a position switch to third base if the Marlins signed the free agent shortstop.
"I'm the shortstop right now and I consider myself a shortstop." (Clark Spencer, Miami Herald)
Taking his comments at face value, it looks like Ramirez is torn. He likes Reyes -- the two are reportedly friends -- and obviously he wants the Marlins to be competitive, but he's hesitant to come out and say that he'd be okay switching positions. It sounds like he'd prefer to stay at shortstop if at all possible, but there's enough uncertainty in there to suggest the Marlins could get him to switch in the right situation.
Surprisingly, defensive statistics suggest that Ramirez and Reyes are closer defensively than you'd expect; over the last three years, both Reyes and Ramirez have graded out as average to below average according to the two most accurate defensive measurements (DRS and UZR). Ramirez has the more powerful bat, though, so he would be best able to transition to another position while still remaining a valuable player.