Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter is '"absolutely" interested in exploring a contract extension with shortstop Hanley Ramirez over the offseason, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Ramirez is set to earn $16MM next year before reaching free agency for the 2015 season.
Walter explained that Ramirez is a "special, special player" who is "fun in the clubhouse" and "inspires other people." Indeed, he has lived up to his talent since coming to Los Angeles: Ramirez's .348/.395/.629 line over 243 plate appearances this year has been good for a 186 wRC+, second-best in all of baseball (minimum 200 plate appearances). We learned recently that Ramirez would be open to a long-term deal to stay in L.A., which Ramirez reiterated when he told Hernandez that he "want[s] to stay here forever."
Still only 29 years old, Ramirez could command a raise on his already-sizeable six-year, $70MM deal. Though his recent injury history could dampen his value somewhat, Ramirez has proven this season that he can still handle shortstop, making his bat play up that much more. The six-year, $106MM deal that brought Jose Reyes to the Marlins could provide an open-market comparable, though Ramirez will be somewhat older than was Reyes at the time of that deal.
As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk has explained, even the big-spending Dodgers will need to keep a close eye on future payroll in considering a new contract for Ramirez. Los Angeles already has at least $122MM on the books through the 2017 season, and ace Clayton Kershaw is sure to command a record salary if and when he is extended.