It's unclear if the Dodgers' extension talks with Hanley Ramirez have progressed since they were reported to be in the "early stages" three weeks ago, but Ramirez made one thing clear today. After arriving at camp a day early, Ramirez told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he wants "to be a Dodger for life."
Ramirez declined any further comment on a potential extension, but he did say that he had treatment this winter on a damaged nerve in his back that is believed to have been the source of last season's hamstring woes. That balky hamstring limited Han-Ram to just 86 games, but when he was on the field, there were few better players in the game. Ramirez batted .345/.402/.638 with 20 homers in just 336 plate appearances last season and was worth more than five wins above replacement despite the missed time.
An extension for Ramirez would take perhaps the top free agent from the 2014-15 crop off the market before he's ever given the chance to test it. The Dodgers made an aggressive push to keep Clayton Kershaw from hitting free agency with last month's $215MM extension, and presumably, they're highly motivated to keep Ramirez in Dodger Blue as well.
Should Ramirez hit the open market, next offseason could be a rare free agent class where there are plentiful option at shortstop. J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie and Asdrubal Cabrera are all set to hit free agency following this season. (Notably, however, the market may have gained a major buyer today with the news that Derek Jeter will retire from the Yankees after the season.) Those names join Chase Headley, Pablo Sandoval, Brett Gardner and Colby Rasmus as the top (relatively) young position players in next year's free agent class.