Having already served a 50-game ban for violating baseball's drug agreement in 2009, Ramirez faced a 100-game suspension last spring for a second offense. But rather than serve the penalty, the 12-time All-Star told the commissioner's office he was quitting. MLB announced his retirement on April 8 and said merely he was notified "of an issue" under the drug program.
"As a condition of his reinstatement, Ramirez will be required to resolve his outstanding violation," the commissioner's office said in a statement.
The suspension would start with the first game he is eligible to play after signing with a club. He would in effect wind up serving a 206-game suspension — the final 156 games of 2011 plus the first 50 of 2012.
Ramirez also is hiring new agents, Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro. Represented by Jeff Moorad when he signed a $160 million, eight-year contract with Boston before the 2001 season, Ramirez later used Scott Boras.
Fourteenth on the career list with 555 home runs, Ramirez is nearing his 40th birthday on May 30. He was just 1 for 17 (.059) in five games last season for the Tampa Bay Rays, who had signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.02 million.
After coming up to the majors with Cleveland in 1993, Ramirez helped the Red Sox end their title drought in 2004, when he was the World Series MVP, and he won a second championship with Boston in 2007. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2008 and became a fan favorite, but was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox in August 2010.
Ramirez was arrested in September in Florida on a domestic battery charge involving his wife. He pleaded not guilty the following month. Ramirez's wife told investigators he slapped her, causing her head to strike a bed headboard. Ramirez has denied slapping her.