One of the most eccentric and polarizing figures in baseball retired Friday afternoon. Considered one of the greatest right handed hitters in the history of baseball, Manny Ramirez belted 555 home runs in his career. He amassed 2574 hits while maintain a .312 batting average throughout his travels in Major League Baseball. In a career that should have been celebrated for incredible numbers and a force that helped the 2004 Red Sox break the Curse of the Bambino, Manny’s career will forever be marred by two numbers: Two.
Two represents the number of times Manny Ramirez has violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention/Treatment Program. The second instance forced the beleaguered star to quietly exit a game he had a habit for making so much noise in. Ramirez leaves behind a compromised legacy and spotty resume for a Hall of Fame bid while abandoning a team with serious deficiencies on offense.
If you’re one of the many owners who drafted Manny with hopes that protecting Evan Longoria would net some value in drafts, the obvious move is in accordance with what the Rays will do next: move forward without the dreadlocks.
With Manny leaving the Rays and your fantasy squad without some pop in the midst of your outfield, here are some widely available players who could fill the gap left by #24.
Percentage of players available taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues
Cameron Maybin (SD-OF): 16 percent owned
Formerly, the highly touted prospect that was one of the center pieces to the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera from Florida to Detriot, Maybin has since disappeared from fantasy relevance. The speedy outfielder fizzled out in Florida, playing only 144 games over three seasons which inevitably led to his release from the Marlins.
At just 24 years of age, Maybin is getting a second lease on life in the bigs with a regular starting job for the San Diego Padres. Currently nestled towards the bottom of the Padres lineup, Maybin has made the most of his uptick in playing time. Over the first week of the season, Maybin is 8 for 29 with two long balls and three stolen bags. Maybin is purely a speculative play right now but the small sample could indicate modest returns from a once highly coveted prospect.
Johnny Gomes (CIN-OF): 11 percent owned
Gomes is possibly one of the cheapest sources for power available on the wire right now. For Manny Ramirez owners looking for a replacement in pop, the Reds five hitter may supply just what you need. Over the last two seasons, Gomes has slugged 18 and 20 home runs respectively despite limited playing time. So far this season, Gomes has exhibited an excellent eye at the play drawing 16 walks while stroking his first two homers of the season for the Reds. Owned in only 11 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Gomes could provide the power left behind by Man-Ram on your fantasy team.
Josh Willingham (OAK-OF): 19 percent owned
If Gomes is the cheapest source of pop, Willingham is certainly a close second with his limited ownership. The Athletics new cleanup hitter is mildly owned and is a safe bet for anywhere from 15 to 25 home runs depending on his ability to stay on the field. In just 370 ABs for the Nationals last season, the veteran outfielder drove in 56 runs while sending 16 balls over the fences. With cheap pop always a premium pick up through the wire, Willingham is a cheaper option with little risk at his current ownership clip.