Dodgers discussing extension with Hanley Ramirez
General manager Ned Colletti has been relatively quiet so far this offseason. Apart from a one-year, $10 million pact with Dan Haren that fortified the rear of manager Don Mattingly’s rotation, fans waiting for a big splash have not gotten it. For now, it appears, the biggest news is likely to come from within.
As he looks for upgrades from outside the organization, Colletti must also consider extensions for two in-house players whose existing commitments to the Dodgers expire after the 2014 season. Clayton Kershaw, who is entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, has received the bulk of the attention, but Hanley Ramirez—who enjoyed a renaissance in 2013—might be the first to secure a new contract.
Ramirez, who turns 30 on December 23, told Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes that Colletti has already begun negotiations with his agent, Andy Mota. The shortstop has one year left on a six-year, $70 million hitch signed with the Marlins on May 17, 2008, and he is due $16 million in 2014 under the current agreement. That salary figures to be rolled into the new extension, assuming the sides are able to come to terms.
Injuries have dogged Ramirez throughout his career, but they were particularly irksome in 2013, when he missed the first month of the season with a sprained thumb suffered in the World Baseball Classic, and then spent another month on the shelf with a strained left hamstring. Despite appearing in just 86 games and logging only 336 plate appearances, Ramirez contributed 4.8 wins to the Dodgers’ cause. Had he sustained his .361 TAv and steady defense over a full season, he might have been the frontrunner for National League MVP honors.
That could complicate negotiations between Mota and Colletti, because Ramirez’s injuries and two-year lull make him a riskier investment than other star-level players might be. Jhonny Peralta’s four-year, $52 million outlay from the Cardinals in a thin shortstop market portends a bidding war for Ramirez if he were to become available next winter. However, needy clubs would have more second-tier alternatives than they do this offseason, with Asdrubal Cabrera, J.J. Hardy, and Jed Lowrie set to join Ramirez as free agents after the 2014 campaign.
The talks with Ramirez could impact Colletti’s plans at the hot corner, where the ex-Marlin would be more of an asset defensively than he is at shortstop. MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick wrote last week that Ramirez has told the Dodgers that he would be willing to slide over to third base. Colletti could fill his team’s hole at third by bringing back Juan Uribe, but his willingness to extend a multi-year offer to the 34-year-old—who delivered only one productive year during his just-expired three-year, $21 million contract—might diminish if Ramirez signs a long-term pact.
One tease after another for Bronson Arroyo
Nearly one-fourth of the league has expressed interest in Bronson Arroyo over the past few weeks. Ordinarily, a 36-year-old with middling stuff might be flattered by the bevy of suitors for his services. But as the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweeted on Sunday morning, none of those seven clubs has made its interest official to Arroyo’s agent, Gregg Clifton.
Coming off of a three-year, $35 million hitch with the Reds, Arroyo waited patiently throughout November as many of his fellow second- and third-tier free agent starters found new homes. Tim Hudson went to the Giants. Jason Vargas inked a deal with the Royals. Dan Haren joined the Dodgers. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes settled with the Twins.
So, is Arroyo’s asking price too high, or did teams simply prefer the starters who signed before him?
Arroyo’s greatest strength is durability: He has made at least 32 starts and worked at least 199 innings in every season since 2005. His performance has declined in recent years, and his 2.6 WARP 2012 efforts stands head and shoulders above his output in the other four seasons since 2009.
A three-pitch hurler whose fastball is a sinker, Arroyo threw more curveballs (1,118) in 2013 than any other major-league pitcher. In fact, no one else came close to Arroyo’s bender volume: A.J. Burnett spun 1,038 of them, good for second, and Adam Wainwright placed third with 937. Hitters rarely squared up the 75-mph hook, batting just .198 against it in 2013, and Arroyo controls his curveball about as well as any big leaguer, as evidenced by his 61-to-7 K:BB ratio in plate appearances that ended with one last season.
As the list of available starters thins, the consummate innings-eater should at least earn a deal with a salary comparable to the $8 million paychecks secured by Hughes and Vargas. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported on Saturday that Arroyo is scheduled to meet with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson sometime this week. Perhaps that rendezvous will get the ball rolling ahead of the Winter Meetings, which begin a week from today.
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