The longtime White Sox shortstop landed in San Diego on what looked to be a bargain one-year, $4MM contract with a mutual option for the 2017 season, but even that modest commitment hasn’t been justified by Ramirez’z on-field performance. The 34-year-old is in the midst of perhaps his worst season at the big league level, having compiled a .238/.272/.326 batting line with just four homers and six steals (in 13 attempts). His ratings in defensive metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved had begun to decline in recent seasons even before he signed in San Diego, but both have cratered in 2016; UZR pegs him at 15.7 runs below average, while DRS is even more harsh at -17.
Ramirez’s mutual option was never all that likely to be exercised anyhow — mutual options are rarely picked up by both involved parties — but his poor play in 2016 has made it a certainty that the Padres will buy out the option. Releasing Ramirez would create an opportunity for Padres officials to get a look at players like Jose Rondon, newly acquired Luis Sardinas and former Giants prospect Nick Noonan, who enjoyed a strong season playing shortstop at Triple-A El Paso and made three consecutive starts at short for the Padres from Aug. 11-13.