First baseman Roberto Ramos is returning to the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization for a second season, reports Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. After earning $500K in 2020, he’ll earn $800K of guarantees in 2021, with another $200K worth of incentives. The team has announced the deal.
Those unfamiliar with Ramos may want to take note of his name, as it’s quite possible it could come up in future offseasons. Despite a very productive age-24 season with the Rockies’ Triple-A club in 2019 (.309/.400/.580, 30 homers, 27 doubles), Colorado let Ramos go to pursue his initial KBO opportunity last winter. Ramos had a rookie season for the ages in the KBO, hitting .278/.362/.592 with a franchise-record 38 home runs, 17 doubles and two triples.
Ramos will turn 26 years old next week, so he’s firmly in the midst of his prime years. With a repeat performance in the KBO in 2021 — particularly if he can cut down on his 27.5 percent strikeout rate — it’s possible that he could draw interest from MLB clubs on a guaranteed deal.
This path has been of increasing popularity for minor league players in recent years, as MLB clubs have shown a willingness to offer guaranteed deals — often multi-year pacts — in order to bring breakout players back over from the KBO or Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. Such deals can be of extra incentive to the player if they contain clauses which allow them to become free agents at contract’s end despite being shy of six years of service, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions. Even if Ramos takes a step back in 2021, he’ll have pocketed about $1.5MM for a two-year span in which he’d have been earning at a fraction of that rate in Triple-A.