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Friday, March 24, 2017

Sources: Indians finalizing four-year extension with Jose Ramirez

Versatile infielder Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Indians are finalizing a four-year contract extension that will guarantee him upward of $30 million, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.

The deal, which includes two club options, will kick in next season and give the Indians control of Ramirez through the 2023 season. If the Indians exercise the options, it could push the value close to $50 million, according to the sources.

The 24-year-old Ramirez is coming off a breakout year in which he helped the Indians to the World Series and the cusp of a championship. He hit .312/.363/.462 and was a veritable Swiss Army knife around the diamond, playing third base, second base, shortstop and outfield.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 10:53 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: indians, jose ramirez

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: March 25, 2017 at 02:53 AM (#5423473)
3 arb years, 1 FA year plus the 2 options. $30 M guaranteed seems a bit high for a guy of this caliber. He's certainly useful and if the 112 OPS+ is for real then this is a solid deal. Or maybe not, I see Todd Frazier got almost $25 M for his 3 arb years; Josh Harrison got $27 for 3 arb and 1 FA (and 2 options). But Moose got only $17 for 3 arb years. Plouffe's 4 super-2 years cost $20. Freese's 3 arb years cost only $14. I guess it must be something like 4/6/8/10 ... maybe 10/11 on the options. Obviously it won't kill them but I don't think I have that much faith in Ramirez yet.
   2. Russ Posted: March 25, 2017 at 06:13 AM (#5423480)
Positional flexibility is really important with those long bullpens and short benches. I think that is part of the extra money.
   3. Stevey Posted: March 25, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5423567)
but I don't think I have that much faith in Ramirez yet.

3.3 WAR in the first 635 PAs before his "breakout". He's only 24. I know he wasn't on any prospect lists, but I'm not sure what's not to like about him. I'd take him over Odor even before looking at the contracts. So would ZiPS and Steamer.
   4. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 25, 2017 at 06:15 PM (#5423652)
I don't see much downside for the Indians. He was still worth ~$6M in 2015 (only 355 PA), which is probably the lower bound of what he will do in any one season between 2018-21 (BABIP in 2015 was .232). There is a good chance that he would have earned more in his three arbitration years in 2018-20 with a strong 2017 than he'll earn with this contract. And that doesn't even get into having the first FA year plus options for two additional FA years that would seem to be very reasonable.

Worst case, he's just a 1.5 WAR player that they're paying a little bit more than what he would have earned in arbitration. Best case, they have an All Star capable infielder signed to a reasonable deal through his age 30 season.

This extension is so much better for the Indians than Odor's is for the Rangers.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: March 25, 2017 at 07:09 PM (#5423670)
Well, the bit not to like was the 76 OPS+ prior to last season and whether that or his recent 112 is more indicative of his current hitting ability. His prior value was mostly defense at SS -- he should be picking it fine at 3B but somehow last year he came in average by Rfield. He looked substantially beefed up last year -- probably good for offense, not so much for defense. His positional flexibility is of limited use given Kipnis and Lindor are entrenched but, sure, 3B/LF and presumably RF comes in handy.

In the above I comped him to other solid but non-descript 3Bs which is what he's likely to be. Frazier is the class of this lot -- he's at 18.6 WAR with 1 arb year to go and that's only costing his teams $25 M. The others aren't particularly close to being in Frazier's league but, other than Harrison, they weren't paid that way either. Freese is the interesting comp in that he's had a 110 OPS+ but given a good chunk back on defense, running, DPs. We don't expect Ramirez to give much back on defense, etc. but then Freese's 3 arb years cost only $14 and he had to be begging for a job last offseason and even with his new 2/$11 contract sounds like he'll make only as much in 3 arb and 3 FA years as Ramirez will in 3 arb and 1 FA year.

This deal is OK but on the high end for this sort of player. It's not about the WAR per se, it's about what would you expect a guy like this to get in arb, what would a typical team pay him, buy him out for, etc. The Pirates got 3 arb years and 1 FA year of Starling Marte for $31 (plus 2 options totalling $24). The Pirates also got Polanco's 3 arb years and 1st FA year for $35 plus 2 options. The portion of Yellich's buyout that takes him through his first FA year was $35. The Braves got 4 super 2 years and 1 FA year of Inciarte for $30 M plus an option at $9.

I think Ramirez is at least one clear step below those guys right now (though Polanco is still more hype than performance). He's being paid less but I suspect not enough less. I won't be surprised if Ramirez is nothing but a good backup IF 2 years from now (if the bat regresses to 80-85 OPS+) and don't expect him to be more than a solid 3B (with a more standard regression to a 100 OPS+).
   6. Stevey Posted: March 25, 2017 at 08:21 PM (#5423689)
Marte and Yelich look a step above because we saw them do what players normally do at 24 and 25 - improve. If Ramirez does the same as them and puts up a 5 WAR season at 24, he's no longer a step below. You're writing him off before you give him the same chance. How many guys get held to what they did as very young part timers? Also Marte and Yelich signed with less service time. The team took a risk a bit sooner, saving a few bucks. Inciarte is an odd case regarding arbitration. Big fielding numbers aren't the payday that offensive numbers are. There's just not a great comparison truly feasible yet.

I have no idea why we would expect an 80-85 OPS+. Sure, he put up weak numbers as a 20-22 year old part-timer. That is not a damning fact, and that he hit well once he got a regular role says a lot more. As a 21-22 year old in AAA, he put up a ~120 wRC+. There's more reason to believe he'll hit than he won't.
   7. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: March 25, 2017 at 08:32 PM (#5423694)
This deal is OK but on the high end for this sort of player.

I, of course, don't need to remind you of all people that (A) an average player has a lot of value, and (B) inflation in MLB contracts has been radical for a while, and is liable to remain so.

To me, the variation in the contract inheres in the question of whether or not Ramirez remains a ~2 WAR player or not. There's a non-zero chance that he doesn't. There's also a non-zero chance that he gives you 3 or 4 wins a year. Cleveland isn't exactly paying for the upper range of that; they're paying for the possibility of the upper range.

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