Manny Ramirez agreed to a minor-league contract with the Oakland Athletics and would have to serve a 50-game drug suspension before he plays this season.
Ramirez, a 12-time All-Star whose 555 home runs rank 14th in Major League Baseball history, will report to spring training as a non-roster invitee at the end of this week, the team said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. He could be eligible to play for the A’s as soon as May 30, his 40th birthday.
Ramirez, who won two World Series titles with the Boston Red Sox, will earn no more than $500,000, just over the league minimum, MLB.com reported. The Athletics’ player payroll of $66.5 million was 21st among 30 major-league teams in 2011.
“From an organization standpoint, you always want to put your team in the best position to win,” A’s pitcher Dallas Braden told the team’s website. “It’s almost two birds with one stone. We can bring in a guy who can still perform and a guy who can show these guys how to go about their business at a perennial All-Star level.”
Ramirez retired from baseball last season rather than face a second unspecified violation tied to the sport’s anti-doping rules. He was also suspended 50 games in May 2009 while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and said at the time his violation wasn’t a steroid and didn’t challenge the penalty.
After joining the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2011 season, Ramirez again tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during spring training. He said he was retiring on April 8 and then asked to be reinstated on Dec. 5, when Major League Baseball said Ramirez would have to serve another 50-game ban before he could play again.
Over 19 major-league seasons, Ramirez has a .312 batting average with 1,832 runs batted in. He’s hit 30 or more home runs in 12 seasons.