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.

We hoped you liked reading Aramis Ramirez Opts Out by Chris Cwik!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




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.

newest oldest most voted
Eddie
Guest
Eddie

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
Guest
joser

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

Dann M
Guest
Dann M

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.