“There has been no movement to date” on a contract extension between Jose Ramirez and the Guardians, Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Ramirez is controlled via club option for both the 2022 and 2023 seasons, and the Guardians are sure to be exercising the 2022 option (worth $11MM) on the star third baseman in a matter of days. While extension talks usually take place later in the offseason, Ramirez’s long-term future has been a topic of conversation, considering how Cleveland’s penchant for trading star players before they become too expensive for the team’s limited payroll.
Previous negotiations between the player and the team didn’t go anywhere last spring, though Ramirez has said on multiple occasions that he would like to remain in Cleveland. Since the Guardians technically don’t have any salary committed for the 2022 season and beyond, there would appear to be payroll space to afford a Ramirez extension, even if a salary that would likely fall in the $25-$30MM average annual value range would take up a big chunk of the budget. As to whether or not Ramirez could be a trade candidate this winter, the Guardians have tended to deal players when they’ve been a bit closer to free agency than two years, plus Cleveland does plan to contend next year.
More from around the AL Central…
- The Royals’ offseason pitching aim is to “continue to be very disciplined with our young players and work to build a really really strong and powerful and elite championship-caliber bullpen,” president of baseball operations Dayton Moore told The Athletic’s Alec Lewis and other reporters. In a sense, it’s the same strategy that led to Kansas City’s 2015 World Series championship team, but for the 2022 club in particular, a quality relief corps will take some pressure of a young and inexperienced rotation and is still largely getting used to facing big league competition. Moore admitted that the team’s limited payroll makes it “really difficult for us to sign a starting pitcher” of “top-of-the-rotation” caliber, but one tactic could be to pursue long relievers or spot starters to reinforce the younger rotation members. “I think you have to look (at) guys who could give us eight to 10 starts at some point in time,” Moore said.
- The Royals announced that first base coach Rusty Kuntz will move from the coaching ranks to a front office role as a special assistant to the president and GM for quality control. Kuntz has been with the K.C. organization since the 2008 season, working mostly as a first base coach but also spending a few reasons in other front office capacities. Moore said Kuntz may not be the only coaching change but most of the staff will return in 2022.
- The White Sox aren’t planning to make any coaching changes, manager Tony La Russa told Daryl Van Schouwen of The Chicago Sun-Times. “And that’s good, that kind of stability,” La Russa said. “We had a good thing going. It wasn’t accidental that those guys played their [butts] off and part of it was the staff.” The Sox already had a fair amount of coaching turnover last winter, with bench coach Miguel Cairo, pitching coach Ethan Katz, assistant hitting coach Howie Clark, and analytics coordinator Shelley Duncan all joining the staff for the first time.
- Twins star prospect Royce Lewis missed all of 2021 recovering from a torn ACL, but the youngster told The Athletic’s Dan Hayes that he is making good progress in his recovery. The highlight was a pair of Instructional League camp games in October, since represented Lewis’ first proper on-field action since the 2019 Arizona Fall League. Lewis has been medically cleared to play, but he said that he will continue to focus on his running this winter, as he feels he is running at only 60 to 70 percent of his full ability.