The extension begins with the 2012 season, meaning the White Sox are paying just under $3 million to one of the American League's best shortstops last year, if not the best. A swell bargain for Kenny Williams this year.
I say it's still a bargain signing.
For around $8 million per season, the White Sox are getting a shortstop who was a legitimate Gold Glove contender in 2010 and was the recipient of the Silver Slugger award at his position. He is 29 years old and may still have room for improvement.
We've seen players in this situation go in different directions. Ramirez could continue to improve his stats and become a .300, 25 HR player who anchors the middle infield as he hits his 30s. He could also get complacent with guaranteed money and settle into a .260 hitter who can't lay off bad pitches and is erratic in the field.
White Sox GM Kenny Williams is obviously hoping he'll get similar production to the season Ramirez had in 2010. If that happens, even the fifth-year option of around $10 million will be a good deal.
Williams comes out of the negotiations smelling pretty sweet. He got some long-term security at shortstop without a big hike in payroll this season. He gets Ramirez for cheap by picking up the option on the previous contract. He also avoids a risky arbitration situation next winter, especially if Ramirez puts up better numbers in 2011.
With Omar Vizquel still in the White Sox dugout, I hope Ramirez continues to improve his defense at shortstop. He seemed more focused on routine plays and showed some of the best range in the big leagues last season. Continuing to sit under Vizquel's learning tree would be a good sign.
Ramirez may never learn to not chase bad pitches. His strikeouts went up and walks down last season, but not in a drastic way (he hit .290 in 2008 and only took 18 walks). He is a free swinger, but as long as he remains in the .280, 20 HR range, I can live with that. He also brings needed speed to the lineup.
If Ramirez can play at the same level he did in the 2010 season, the White Sox will have received excellent value for their money. Williams, to me, made a very proactive move in extending his shortstop's contract.
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