JUNE 3: There are currently no ongoing extension discussions between Ramirez’s representatives and the Dodgers, Ramirez tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
MAY 15: The Dodgers have been in discussions with shortstop Hanley Ramirez about a new deal for the last several weeks, but a significant gap remains, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ramirez, 30, is reportedly asking for over $130MM to give up a chance at testing the open market. Heyman says that the sides are far enough apart that finding a compromise — if it proves possible — is expected to take some time.
At that price, it seems that Ramirez would at least be looking to crack the $25MM level in average annual value over a six-year term. As Heyman notes, that seems to be a fairly reasonable starting point in light of the seven-year deals handed out to players like Jacoby Ellsbury ($153MM) and Shin-Soo Choo ($130MM) during the latest round of free agency.
Indeed, injuries aside, Ramirez’s career numbers look rather similar to those of Robinson Cano, who landed $240MM over ten seasons. Both established themselves in 2006 and have compiled just over 37 fWAR since. While Cano was more consistently excellent over recent years, and was surely a safer investment for such a lengthy deal, Ramirez arguably delivers more upside, especially since he plays short. And Ramirez will be a bit younger when he reaches the open market.
While a deal approaching Cano proportions seems out of reach barring an unbelievable rest of the year, Ramirez figures to be able to drive up quite a bidding war, especially if he can bump up his current 116 OPS+ a few ticks. That is especially so because, unlike the situation in last year’s market, Ramirez faces no real competition as the only truly premium position player set to reach free agency. As MLBTR’s first iteration of this year’s free agent power rankings reflect, players like Chase Headley, Colby Rasmus, Pablo Sandoval, and fellow shortstop J.J. Hardy are next in line among non-pitchers. Capable of playing both short and third, Ramirez could be courted by large-market clubs like the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, and Angels.
Of course, Ramirez’s injury history limits his contractual upside. And while some players seem to increase their demands as free agency approaches — Cano and Max Scherzer appearing to be notable recent examples — signing a mid-season extension cuts off any remaining risk of injury or performance decline.
Los Angeles is not currently willing to meet Ramirez’s current asking price, says Heyman, with his track record of injuries potentially limiting the number of years that the Dodgers wish to guarantee. Of course, Ellsbury managed to land his monster deal in spite of his own potentially concerning list of maladies, and Ramirez could be a better candidate to maintain value as he ages since his game is less dependent upon speed and he could always shift over to third. Regardless of what price the Dodgers might ultimately be willing to pay, Heyman makes clear that there is still plenty of ground for the sides to cover before a mid-point can be found.