Latest On Jose Ramirez, Guardians
The Guardians have had some extension discussions with star third baseman José Ramírez since the lockout was lifted. Those talks, which as of earlier in the week hadn’t yet progressed to an actual exchange of numbers, don’t appear to have gotten very far.
Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports that conversations between the Guardians and Ramírez about a long-term deal “have bogged down, if not ended.” Even if talks haven’t completely fizzled out, Hoynes adds that the organization has set an Opening Day deadline for an extension to be in place. If no deal is agreed upon by next Thursday, it seems the plan is to just carry the three-time All-Star into the season on the option the team exercised last November.
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that negotiations between Cleveland and Ramírez haven’t seriously progressed. The Guardians have never guaranteed a player more than the $60MM they spent on free agent Edwin Encarnación over the 2016-17 offseason. Even with Ramírez two years from hitting free agency, a long-term deal with the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner would probably exceed twice that amount.
If there’s no deal in place by next week and the Guardians cut off talks, rival clubs figure to gauge his trade availability. There’d be no shortage of league-wide demand in Ramírez, one of the sport’s best overall players. The Blue Jays — where former Cleveland executives Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have key front office roles — are the one team known to have checked in with Guardians brass about Ramírez this winter. There are surely other clubs who have inquired, but there’s no indication Cleveland has given much thought to trading him.
At the very least, it seems the Guardians will keep Ramírez for the first few months of the season. Cleveland has designs on contending, and dealing their best player would represent a major blow to the team’s chances. It’d also be a source of frustration for a fanbase that is only a year removed from seeing previous face of the franchise Francisco Lindor shipped off to the Mets as his potential free agency loomed.
If the Guardians haven’t locked Ramírez up beyond 2023, though, there’ll be plenty of pressure on the team to get off to a good start. If they fall out of playoff contention by July, the 29-year-old could be one of the most talked-about players in advance of the trade deadline. Even a year and a half of club control over Ramírez would be incredibly valuable if he keeps up his recent form, particularly given his affordability. He’s playing this season on a $12MM salary and can be brought back in 2023 via $14MM club option.
In other Guardians extension news, Hoynes writes that Cleveland is “deep in negotiations” with closer Emmanuel Clase. No deal has yet been finalized, but Hoynes relays that Clase’s reps at Nova Sports Agency are en route to the team’s Spring Training facility in Arizona to meet with the right-hander and team officials.