Amid the controversy surrounding National League MVP Ryan Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers have made their first prominent move of the offseason.
According to sources, the Brewers have reached an agreement with free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. The contract is supposedly up to three years and is reportedly worth anywhere from $34-37 million. The deal will become official after Ramirez passes a physical.
Ramirez, 33, batted .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI with the Chicago Cubs last season. He now becomes Milwaukee's primary threat at the plate at the beginning of next season should Braun's appeal to the league fall through.
The Brewers have been searching the free-agent market since the end of their playoff run at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals last October, and Ramirez will not only provide a sumptuous bat to manager Ron Roenicke's lineup, but will also bring in a veteran glove to an infield that struggled mightily throughout last season.
Last week, Milwaukee also added free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2013. With Ramirez now locked up, the left side of Milwaukee's infield will have a completely different outlook in 2012.
Money was tight before this deal went down, which more than likely ends what hope remained for Brewers fans desiring a potential re-signing of Prince Fielder this offseason. The future of incumbent third baseman Casey McGehee is now murky at best, and the likelihood of a trade is now at an all-time high.
GM Doug Melvin may or may not still be looking for a late-inning reliever, but with Francisco Rodriguez accepting arbitration last week, the Brewers' need for an eighth-inning setup man probably isn't as high as it was before the Ramirez signing.