Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez is the club's most high-profile potential free agent this offseason and arguably their most irreplaceable player. Both Ramirez and the club have expressed interest in him remaining in Los Angeles long term, but now we have an idea of the cost.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that Ramirez "is believed to seek a contract in excess of $130 million," and says the gap between the player and club is large enough that negotiations could take a while.
Ramirez would likely be the biggest fish in the free agent pond in the offseason, and as Heyman noted the two largest position player contracts of this past offseason - Jacoby Ellsbury to New York for seven years, $153 million, and Shin-Soo Choo to Texas for seven years, $130 million - as reasonable comps. Ellsbury is 30 years old this year and Choo is 31, the same age Ramirez will be in 2014.
Ramirez is making $16 million this year in the final year of a six-year, $70 million contract.
Neither general manager Ned Colletti nor Ramirez's agent Adam Katz commented to Heyman for the story, which keeps in line with the relative privacy of the contract negotiations to date. About the most Colletti has said on the matter was on Monday to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
"He's still somebody we'd love to have back," Colletti said.
Colletti said he has made it a point to share that sentiment with Ramirez's agent, Adam Katz.
Ramirez is hitting .252/.331/.440 with five home runs and 15 doubles in 41 games. He ranks last among the 28 players with at least 200 innings at shortstop this year in Ultimate Zone Rating, at 6.3 runs below average. Ramirez is also near the very bottom in Total Zone Rating (three runs below average) and Defensive Runs Saved (seven runs below average).
It is widely believed that Ramirez, if he remains with the Dodgers beyond 2014, would at some point shift to third base.
Ramirez is very tough to value, as his 2014 performance at the plate (116 OPS+, 121 wRC+) is more in line with his 2010-2012 numbers (.269/.346/.438, a 111 OPS+, 112 wRC+) than his sublime 2013 (.345/.402/.638, 189 OPS+, 191 wRC+). But even his great 2013 comes with the caveat that injuries limited him to just 86 games.
So it is perfectly understandable that for the ages 31 through 35 or 36 the cost of $130 million might have caused some sort of sticker shock. Then again, it may just be the cost of doing business.
We saw the Dodgers have some sort of budgetary limit this past offseason when they didn't sign Masahiro Tanaka. Will they show the same restraint when it comes to Ramirez?