Aramis Ramirez Opts Out

Aramis Ramirez is ready to leave the Chicago Cubs. After eight-and-a-half seasons with the team, Ramirez’s agent announced that his client will test the free agent market this off-season. While Ramirez  initially was hesitant to leave Chicago, he apparently changed his mind once he realized the Cubs are transitioning into a rebuilding period. Ramirez, 33, has also acknowledged that he wants to move to a winning team as he transitions to the twilight of his career.

The free-agent market couldn’t look better for him. After suffering from injuries the past two seasons, Ramirez has rebounded to post his strongest statistical season since 2008. On top of that, Ramirez has benefited from injuries to a slew of other third basemen across the league this year. Because of those injuries, Ramirez this season rates as the fifth-best third baseman in baseball. While those factors could influence teams to think Ramirez is well worth a significant chunk of cash, there are some concerns about paying Ramirez such a large sum.

Even Ramirez has acknowledged that he’s no spring chicken. While his statistical resurgence has been nice, Ramirez’s age puts him at risk of serious decline. And it’d be coming sooner, rather than later. Since Ramirez is looking for a three-to-four-year deal, whichever team decides to sign him is going to have to consider the risks behind paying a 33-year-old third baseman for a significant period of time. Injuries have also been a reoccuring problem for Ramirez the past couple seasons. A dislocated shoulder limited Ramirez to just 82 games in 2009, and various injuries dragged down Ramirez’s slash line in 2010. Though things have been better this season, Ramirez’s recent injury history is especially concerning when you consider his age.

If this season has proven anything, it’s that a healthy Ramirez is still capable of solid production at third base. For Ramirez to become a free agent, he’ll first have to turn down a $16 million option with the Cubs. While that seems like a lot of money for an aging third baseman, Ramirez has been worth roughly $16 million this season (if we assume a win is worth about $5 million). Due to his age and injury history, Ramirez could struggle to make that much on the open market.

As he’s proven this season, Ramirez still has something left in the tank. While his performance might benefit from the fact that other elite third basemen have been injured this season, he’ll likely be the strongest third baseman on the free-agent market. Unfortunately, Ramirez’s injury history and age make him a risky pickup — especially if he’s going to demand a long-term deal. If opting out is really about joining a winning team, Ramirez has every right to seek a World Series ring. But if Ramirez hopes to cash in after his resurgent 2011, he might find that life outside The Friendly Confines isn’t so friendly.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


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Eddie
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Eddie
4 years 9 months ago

This is a good thing for Cubs fans. Ownership will save the cost of the $2 buyout they would have owed had they turned down Ramirez’s option themselves, plus they can confidently offer arbitration knowing it will be turned down. Ramirez is a ‘B’ free agent, so they’ll collect a shiny draft pick in the sandwich round, and then can continue the rebuild by installing one of Lemahieu/Flaherty/Starlin Castro??!! at 3B.

A man can dream, anyway.

joser
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joser
4 years 9 months ago

How would Castro’s “defense” play at 3rd? Fewer boots, more wild throws?

Dann M
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Dann M
4 years 9 months ago

It’s an idea worth considering, especially with Castro showing some power potential at 21. Add in that Barney’s glove and sub-.700 OPS would look much better at SS than 2B, and LeMahieu and Flaherty are more likely 2B than 3B or SS at the MLB level.

Norm
Member
4 years 9 months ago

He won’t get the $16 million annually, but he’ll get a lot more guaranteed money over the next 3-4 years.

This is good for the Cubs though….if they’re smart, they’ll get a draft pick out of it.

Yirmiyahu
Member
Yirmiyahu
4 years 9 months ago

Whatever the specifics, some team is gonna regret that deal. He’s a terrible defensive 3Bman and has been getting worse the past couple years (check any defensive stat of your choosing). Add in age and injuries. When teams are deciding how much to offer him, they should consider him a 1Bman going forward.

jorgath
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jorgath
4 years 9 months ago

I expect him to end up with a nice $33MM – 3 yr deal with a $12MM/$1MM club option.

Metsox
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Metsox
4 years 9 months ago

Where might he end up seems like an interesting question?

TK
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TK
4 years 9 months ago

Ramirez is banking on making more money in this contract than he would make if he made 16 million next year and then signed a deal. Since he’s unlikely to get a contract averaging 16 million, is he admitting in a way that his 2011 was a fluke? Is he fearful that he will decline in 2012 and would thus become a year-to-year 8-million-ish type player? If he had another good-great year in 2012 with the Cubs, he’d still get a really nice contract and he’d make 16 million in 2012.

Back to reality: I’d guess a team will probably give Ramirez 50 million over 4 years (I’d be praying it isn’t my team if I were you). If this is true, it means Ramirez thinks it is more likely than not he couldn’t get 3/34 next year, which to me is a safe bet but it should add to the list of reasons teams should think long and hard before signing Ramirez. He doesn’t even seem to believe in himself.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
4 years 9 months ago

Or he realizes that [1] if he gets hurt in 2012, his erning power goes way down, [2] he’s entereing FA off of a very good year, [3] he’s ready to get out of Chicago.

Makes me wonder if MIL is a potential landing spot if McGehee replaces Fielder at 1B (or ARamirez does).

I agree with what someone else said, that a 3/33 deal provides more security and overall money than chancing playing 2011 under the option and entering FA a year older.

Seriously, you don’t play on the Cubs and expect good things to happen. You pretty much assume every black cat scenario and feel relieved when one or two catastophies avoid you.

Players accept the single year option if they feel a strong performance that year can drastically increase their long-term FA value. That’s not the case for Ramirez.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 9 months ago

The Tigers definitely have a need. However, I would HATE to see him get 3-4 years. I have a hard time believing anyone will go to 4 at his age and with his injury history.

adohaj
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adohaj
4 years 9 months ago

I could also see the angels throwing money at their problems

Bill
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Bill
4 years 9 months ago

He would fit in well with Anaheim’s collection of fading MLB stars.

Jeff
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Jeff
4 years 9 months ago

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Tigers sign him for 3 years if that’s what it will take. Obviously a 2 year deal + club option would be better, but Aramis probably won’t go for that.

You can assume astronomical declines for Aramis (1 WAR/year) and he’ll still be better than what the Tigers have been fielding this year. I doubt he will decline that badly anyway.

Betemit is already playing basically 1B-quality defense without anywhere near Aramis’ bat. Let’s not even talk about A Certain 10-and-5 “Gamer” Who Shall Remain Nameless.

I don’t love it, but it’s an improvement for sure.

Robby
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Robby
4 years 9 months ago

Ramirez might be an option for the Brewers, but I highly doubt it would be because McGehee moved to first. Even if 2010 wasn’t a terrible year for him, I don’t think he would profile very well at first.

TS
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TS
4 years 9 months ago

It’s a team option, not a player option. If the Cubs don’t pick up the $16m, they pay him $2m to cut ties.

Eddie
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Eddie
4 years 9 months ago

It’s a mutual option. The Cubs can pick up their end, and if Ramirez subsequently declines, they owe him nothing.

gonfalon
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gonfalon
4 years 9 months ago

I guess it is technically a club option, but according to Cot’s Contacts, “if club exercises 2012 option, Ramirez may void and forfeit option”

Hurtlocker
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Hurtlocker
4 years 9 months ago

Risky is an understatement, but some idiot will offer this guy big money and live to regret it everyday.

Bookbook
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Bookbook
4 years 9 months ago

Do not sign non-HOF quality 33-year-old third basemen to contracts! What big spenders are likely to do so, anyway? The Yanks have A-Rod, the Sawx have Youkilis, the Dodgers aren’t spenders any more, the Phillies only pay for pitching.

Oh, I know, the Cubs.

Jim
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Jim
4 years 9 months ago

Well, there’s always the Angels. ;)

Among other, non-major market teams, I’d say there’s not a lot of options, really. What I can think of:

a. The Marlins: With the team about to move into a new stadium, and the uncertainy at the position going forward(is Matt Dominguez ready, or will they try to re-sign Infante and put him there and put someone else at 2B, or possibly some other infield arrangement?), perhaps they could solidify the position by giving Ramirez a 3-year contract. But I’d say the odds are less than 20%

b. The Tigers: Sure, they still have Brandon Inge, but it wouldn’t be surprised if they give him another outright assignment and he refuses this time, and is granted free agency(he’d still get the rest of his money if he’s released or outrighted). Betemit is also a free agent, so it’s either keep Peralta at SS and get a 3B like Ramirez, or move Peralta to 3B and get a SS.

c. The Indians: Maybe a long shot, but Lonnie Chisenhall struggled enough that there might be some concerns about him. Perhaps they package Chisenhall in a trade after signing Ramirez? Just a thought.

Mitch
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Mitch
4 years 9 months ago

Marlins?

Mitch
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Mitch
4 years 9 months ago

or Detroit, Mil, or LAD. He’s likely to end up with 1 of those 4.

Mitch
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Mitch
4 years 9 months ago

let’s not overstate the glove. He’s having a great yr with the stick. .200 ISO with an 11% K rate and .371 w/OBA.

joe
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joe
4 years 9 months ago

He’ll probably get 3 / 36 mil or something.

hk
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hk
4 years 9 months ago

I would have expected the Cubs to decline the option and pay the $2M, so it’s odd that the agent pre-announced that Ramirez is going to test free agency.

dcs
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dcs
4 years 9 months ago

Given everything that is known about A Ram’s situation (in the last 3rd of his career, coming off a good year, on a bad team in a bad organization, has already made 87 million, logically now wants to win a WS, has realized the Cubs are not eager to pick up his option), he decides to make a pre-emptive strike and decline the option.

Smart move. He doesn’t end up looking rejected by his team of the last 8 years, which may help his marketability. He maintains his pride. He comes off more as a guy who wants to win, instead of a guy who wanted to hang on to the possibility that a shitty team would pick up his option because he was afraid to see what he was worth to other teams.

Max
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Max
4 years 9 months ago

Recurring… not reocurring.

Expos67
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Expos67
4 years 9 months ago

The Brew Crew would be a good fit with Prince leaving.

ARam is horrendous at 3th base, so they could stick him at 1st instead of going to Mat “I don’t have the bat to play 1B but I don’t have the glove for 3B either” Gamel. Their farm system is empty and nobody’s ready to fill that position within the organisation.

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