There are whispers that the Chicago White Sox are interested in retaining Alexei Ramirez as their starting shortstop. The team denied a $10 million dollar option on the infielder for the 2016 season, but it appears the White Sox still have some interest in still re-signing him.
A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres have known to be interested in Ramirez on a short-term deal as well. The Padres have a trio of young shortstops about ready for major league service, so they really only need a shortstop for a season or two.
Ruddy Giron, Jose Rondon and Javier Guerra are all in high A-Ball or Double-A Ball and are close to taking their game to the next level. The team is especially high on Guerra who they acquired in the Craig Kimbrel trade. He is described as a great defender with a potential power bat from the left side of the plate. Giron and Rondon are both promising young infielders as well. The future seems bright for the Padres at shortstop, but each are at least one and a half to two seasons from contributing at the major league level.
Would the Padres be interested in Ramirez as a stop-gap until one of their young shortstops are ready for service? Well yes, but that all depends on the price tag. Ramirez would surely want a multi-year deal, and that might be his deciding factor on who he signs with. If the Padres came in at $10 to $14 million for two years, they might be able to sign the man. Even if they did a lower base salary with a bunch of incentives, that might be beneficial for both sides.
Stephen Drew just signed with the Washington Nationals for one year and three million dollars plus one and a quarter million more in incentives. That gives us a good idea to Ramirez’ worth. Drew is two years younger than Ramirez, but Ramirez is clearly the better everyday type player. The value on Ramirez dictates at least a one year deal in the five to seven million dollar range with a player option.
That type of salary is way more cost-effective that what the team could potentially pay for Ian Desmond and Ramirez will not cost the team a pick like signing Desmond would. The market on Desmond is souring and he could be a tantalizing option on a one or two-year deal but the draft pick attached to him could really be a killing point. The Padres are surely looking forward to have three potential top 50 picks in this June’s MLB draft.
The team cannot go into the season with Alexi Amarista as their starting shortstop. Jedd Gyorko, Clint Barmes, and Will Middlebrooks were all dispatched and yet no replacement has been found at a vital position on the field. Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje were acquired this winter but neither has the ability to be an everyday type player. There needs to be an addition and we all know that is the Padres top priority.
Alexei Ramirez is not the flashiest or most prolific player in the game today but he is steady and plays most everyday for his team. That in itself can be extremely valuable. Ramirez reminds me of a Chris Gomez type player. He does not have the best range but he will make the routine play and he will provide a decent bat.
In his eight year career, Ramirez has been pretty consistent in terms of what he brings to the table. He has some power, hitting 109 home runs in his career and 21 in a season as a rookie in 2008. He has speed with 135 stolen bases in his career including 30 in 2013 and 17 last year. He makes excellent contact but rarely walks. His career on base percentage of .310 is right on par to what he brings you. The best stat on Ramirez is he has played in 154 games or more for the last six seasons. He is durable and always wants to be out on the field.
The 34-year-old Cuban is getting up their in age and his numbers are bound to decline at some point in the near future. However his .277/.325/.432 batting line with eight homers and 35 RBIs in the second half of last year indicate he has at least one more good season in him still. At a bargain price, Ramirez could be the shortstop the Padres are looking for. It still remains to be seen if he will be the one the team acquires to fill its biggest need.