It's been a pretty rough year for Manny Ramirez. He retired from the Tampa Bay Rays and Major League Baseball in early April because he didn't want to face another suspension for a failed drug test. In September, he was arrested over a domestic incident with his wife. Later in September, he was blocked from playing winter ball in the Dominican because of its affiliation with MLB. And in October, he worked out for Japan's Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, and the team was scared away by Ramirez's baggage.
Now Ramirez is in the news again. This news isn't quite so negative. Via Jon Morosi:
Manny Ramirez, who retired in April following a second violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, plans to resume his playing career.
Ramirez is applying for reinstatement from the retired list, and according to Morosi, he would be eligible to resume playing after serving a 50-game suspension. I could've sworn Ramirez was facing a 100-game suspension, for his second violation, so either something has changed or Morosi is wrong. I don't know.*
There was talk that Ramirez wasn't quite prepared for retirement, so this news doesn't come as a huge surprise. It's unclear, though, what kind of market could develop for a 39-year-old DH facing a lengthy suspension. Ramirez signed a $2 million contract with the Rays last January (on the same day as the Vernon Wells trade!), and that was after posting an .870 OPS the year before in a season marred by injuries. Now he's older, he's further separated from his productive days, he's still injury-prone, he's got more baggage, and he's looking at a long suspension. If Ramirez signs at all, expect him to sign for very little, with a bunch of incentives.
Baseball is more interesting with Manny Ramirez in it. This is a step towards the familiar. This is not a guarantee that Ramirez ends up with a contract, but it introduces the possibility.
* confirmed - Ramirez would face a 50-game suspension if he signs on anywhere. There exists a sentiment that Ramirez served his punishment a year ago, so a 50-game suspension is the agreed-to compromise between a 100-game suspension and no suspension at all.