Update: Ken Gurnick reports that Ramirez’ agent said the Instagram post was “a joke” and that he really went to the Dominican Republic. I trust Gurnick’s reporting, but I’m not sure I’m fully buying the agent’s story. What’s more likely — that Ramirez riled up the fans for no reason, or that his agent is being less than truthful and is doing his best to muzzle Ramirez before the deal is actually done?
If it seems like a Hanley Ramirez contract extension is imminent, that’s because it probably is, and not just because the shortstop is headed into the final year of his contract. It’s because Ramirez apparently can’t stop telling people about it. Just over a week ago, he told ESPN Deportes that he was negotiating a long-term deal; last night, he posted to Instagram a picture of himself on a plane with the caption “To Los Angeles…. Good news!!!!”
Presumably, he’s headed to town because a deal is close — no reason for him to be there for the nitty-gritty of negotiations, not when he’s paying an agent for that — and even more presumably, it could be done quickly, because one would think that Ned Colletti and crew are headed off to Orlando and the winter meetings no later than this evening.
So while I think we all expect there to be a deal, the question then becomes, how much and for how long?
Back in August, I attempted to project what he could get. After floating the idea that doing nothing at all and letting him prove his health might be best, we came to this:
What I’d propose is this: tear up his 2014 year of $16m, and sign him to something like three years and $70m, perhaps with a vesting option for a well-compensated year four. That’s an average value of $23.3m, which should be more than sufficient, and would keep him a Dodger for his age-30, -31, and -32 seasons. If a fourth guaranteed year is a deal-breaker, you could probably go to 4/$95m, though I’d prefer not to. The argument is that Reyes got six guaranteed years but would have hit free agency two years younger, so this would stick to a similar path while paying Ramirez more.
What concerns me is the idea of doing more than that — that Ramirez’ agents take note of Stan Kasten’s opinion that he doesn’t want players signed beyond age 36 and say, “sign him through age 36 then,” or “if you give him six years, that’s only through age 35.” Ramirez is an admittedly great player, but he’s not without his warts, and the idea of giving him a long-term deal as he enters his thirties really does worry me.
Well prepare for worry, and I said that before the nerve pain in his back or the broken ribs in the NLCS. Now I’m thinking what he’s going to get is going to be far more than that, likely for around six years and in the $100m to $120m range. That’s partially due to what I’ve heard and partially due to the way the market has shaken out, especially with Robinson Cano blowing up everyone for $240m.
Ramirez isn’t getting anywhere near that kind of deal, of course. Though he is more than a year younger than Cano, he’s not a free agent and has a far more checkered history of health and production than Seattle’s new toy. Still, the ten-year mega-deal does make it a bit harder to pitch the high-AAV/low-years idea, and it seems like we may have a lot of Hanley for a long time to come.
That’s fine if he’s healthy, though of course he rarely was in 2013. It was such a weird year for him, because on one hand it’s difficult to kill a guy for fluke injuries like the thumb in the WBC, or the shoulder in Chicago, or the ribs courtesy of Joe Kelly, but when those things just keep on happening, it’s hard to keep calling them “flukes”.
There’s also the question about what this does to the future of the infield on the left side. This doesn’t really “block” shortstop prospect Corey Seager, because either or both are more likely third basemen, but then that means one of the two may be at short for longer than anyone would like.
Obviously, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, because nothing is done yet, and it’s great to keep an immense talent like Ramirez in the organization. I think we all saw how different the lineup was without him. Still, depending on the terms, I think I’ll be mostly happy, yet not without considerable reservations.