Manny Ramirez is back in baseball, and this time in a player-coach capacity. The Chicago Cubs have signed Ramirez to a minor league deal where he will see limited playing time with their Triple-A affiliate, but his primary role will be as mentor to the young hitters on the club.
GM Theo Epstein has come out and said there is no room, nor will there be, at the big league level for Ramirez with the Cubs. Instead, Ramirez will get at-bats only where it will not take chances away from prospects, and if it leads to a chance to contribute at the big league level with another club, the Cubs would allow Ramirez to move on.
The Iowa Cubs currently feature top prospects like Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva, who should certainly be able to learn a thing or two from a player who has hit better than .312 and connected on 555 home runs at the big league level in his career. He is not the first PED linked player to get a coaching job, as Mark McGwire has been a successful hitting coach and Jason Giambi is essentially filling a player-coach role for the Cleveland Indians.
Ramirez is certainly a love-him-or-hate-him type of guy, as he has been suspended multiple times by baseball for failed drug tests, and his out of left field (it fits because that is also the position he played) antics have lead many fans to question how seriously he takes the game.
He will get some at-bats in Extended Spring Training this week before joining the Iowa club. The Cubs system has as much offensive talent in the minor leagues as any organization, so it will certainly be worth watching to see if Ramirez can help the young hitters mature.