The Texas Rangers didn't have the most successful off-season, with their most significant free agent signings involving two aging hitters, Lance Berkman and A.J. Pierzynski. Searching for help in their battle with the Oakland A's for first place in the AL West, the Rangers have gone the old route again, signing outfielder Manny Ramirez to a minor league contract.
Ramirez may be the biggest reach of the season for the Rangers. The 41-year-old hasn't played in the majors since an ultra-brief stint with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. After failing his second performance-enhancing drug test, he retired rather than face a 100-game suspension.
He ultimately got the suspension reduced to 50 games, a suspension he served while playing in the minors for the Oakland A's in 2012, meaning he can now return to the major leagues with no extra penalty. Ramirez had been playing for the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional League in Taiwan, but he left the team in June in hopes of catching on with an MLB team.
After a brief swoon in the middle of June, the Rangers have gotten on track the last couple of weeks, winning 10 of their last 14 games. Their recent success was partially helped by the return of two big bats, Ian Kinsler and Mitch Moreland, who had both spent time on the disabled list.
Ramirez will be assigned to the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express.