Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hanley wants to stay awhile... and the Dodgers will take him

As Hanley Ramirez was celebrating a World Baseball Classic championship with his Dominican Republic teammates on Thursday, he dropped a bit of news: he's working on a contract extension with the Dodgers, and it could be done this winter.

For how much and how long?  That he wouldn't say, so let the speculation commence.

Ramirez enters 2014 in the final year of his six-year, $70 million contract he originally inked with the Marlins in 2009.  We all know how he started off as the next five-tool star, only to fall on some pretty hard times before reviving his career with the Dodgers.

Despite all of the injuries Ramirez went through last season (thumb, hamstring, back, ribs), there was no doubt this guy meant everything to the Dodgers in winning the NL West.  It seems like he played in more than 86 games, but alas, we only saw him in about half of the games.  In those games, he hit .345 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs, a clear indication of just how good he was.

The Dodgers really have no choice but to extend him.  Obviously they still feel that at 30 entering next season, he still is in the prime of his career and is an MVP-like player.  The fact that he put up those great numbers with injuries all over his body shows the talent he has.  Plus, his defense at short was much-improved, and he may actually switch to third for next season if needed.

Those who are skeptical of such an extension will point out that both Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier received mega-deals after they put up big numbers, and proceeded to see their numbers go down ever since.  Ramirez, fair or not, is injury prone, though the Dodgers hope he can't possibly be as banged up in the future as he was in 2013.  The bottom line is, no matter who the player is, there's always risk involved in long-term investments.

I'll wait to see what kind of deal Ramirez does sign, but I'm probably going to like it no matter what.  Along with Yasiel Puig, Ramirez brought so much more energy and production to a fledgling Dodgers' squad this past season.  Look how flat they were once he was beaned in the ribs during Game 1 of the NLCS.  They only could muster a couple of wins as their offense tanked.  A healthy Ramirez was good enough to lift them to the Fall Classic.

Hopefully the Dodgers get this done soon, then shift their attention to filling other spots, such as in the bullpen.  Could a trade of Kemp, Ethier, or Carl Crawford be next?  You never know.

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