One month after agreeing to an extension that will keep him in Cleveland through 2028, Jose Ramirez and his agent spoke with ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez about how the new contract came together. The third baseman’s deal, which tacked on $115MM in new money to a pair of team-friendly club options, was widely considered to be a shrewd move by the Guardians’ frugal front office. While that may continue to be the case, Ramirez makes it abundantly clear to Gonzalez that his camp was not outmaneuvered.
Per Ramirez’s agent, Rafa Nieves, the star third baseman was flatly told that the club couldn’t afford to pay Ramirez “what [he was] worth”. Instead of welcoming a trade like former teammate Francisco Lindor, Ramirez doubled down on his desire to win a World Series with Cleveland and retire as a rare one-team Hall of Famer. “[W]hen I was a kid looking for an opportunity, this is the organization that gave it to me,” Ramirez recounted. “It was also the team I reached the big leagues with, that gave me my first contract. My dream was to stay here, in this organization. And also my daughter was born in Cleveland, too. I feel a part of that community.”
Accordingly, Ramirez dismissed the difference of earning power in Cleveland versus elsewhere and insisted that a deal get done. Nieves, for his part, mentioned that he and others tried to talk Ramirez out of the deal, and that Cleveland’s final offer was only incrementally better than previous offers thanks to a no-trade clause and lack of salary deferrals.
The exact difference in earning power will forever be speculative, though industry insiders believe that any team who traded for Ramirez would have immediately offered an extension approaching $200MM in new money. In a world where Ramirez reached free agency without an extension, a $35MM annual contract value, equal to the value established by Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon, seemed entirely attainable as well.
Two of Ramirez’s most ardent pursuers on the trade market, the Blue Jays and Padres, would have had various levels of money to allot for a nine-figure contract to their shiniest acquisition. Toronto seems like a prime candidate to issue a hypothesized $200MM contract, whereas the Padres seemingly remain on a quest to shed payroll instead of add to it.
Complicating either trade scenario as well is the fact that both teams have third base spoken for, with Matt Chapman and Manny Machado entrenched at the hot corner for both clubs, meaning a shift to second base would’ve been likely for Ramirez. It’s all moot now of course, but it may please Toronto and San Diego fans who came away empty in their team’s pursuit of Ramirez to know that their keystone players currently rank sixth and fourth in league-wide offensive production.
It’s incredibly soon to declare a final of assessment of Jose Ramirez’s new contract, but the early returns for his club (as well as those who pursued him) are promising. Through 24 games, the switch-hitting All-Star has hit a robust .318/.419/.659 (217 OPS+) with more walks than strikeouts, establishing a pace that may finally net the slugger MVP honors.