Certainly the primary reason for signing Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon is their impact on the baseball field. But the secondary reason is what they can do for the Rays off the field. In addition to converting some Red Sox (and possibly some Yankees) fans, the signings make the Rays relevent.
Take a look at this chart below. It is the frequency of the “Rays” tag on Twitter over the last month. The large peak on the right side of the chart is Friday, when it became known that the Rays are going to sign Manny and Damon.
Now compare that to the smaller spike in middle (Jan. 7). That is the day the Matt Garza trade went public.
The Rays have won two of the last three AL East pennants, but these signings may have made the Rays more relevent than any other point in franchise history.