Jose Ramirez Rumors: Guardians Contract Extension Talks Have 'Broken Down'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 2, 2022

Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez sits on the infield dirt after failing to make a force out at second base against the Milwaukee Brewers during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Talks between the Cleveland Guardians and All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez about a possible contract extension have reportedly "broken down" ahead of the 2022 MLB season.

"Ramirez's representatives and the Guardians have been talking on and off about an extension. This was an important week in trying to get a deal done, but it appears negotiations have bogged down, if not ended," Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reported Friday.

The three-time Silver Slugger Award winner is set to enter the final guaranteed season of a four-year, $26 million contract. The Guardians hold a $14 million club option for 2023.

Ramirez made his MLB debut with Cleveland in 2013, and he's emerged as one of baseball's most valuable players over the past six years.

He's compiled an .895 OPS with 155 home runs and 134 stolen bases since the start of the 2016 season and ranks third among all MLB hitters in WAR (32.7) over that period, per FanGraphs.

The 29-year-old from Dominican Republic is coming off a 2021 season where he finished sixth in AL MVP voting after tallying 36 homers and 27 steals.

"I would really like to stay," Ramirez told reporters after last season. "But there's no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer."

The Guardians aren't facing a major sense of urgency since it's a virtual lock they'll use the club option for next season if no deal is reached. The $12 million the infielder will make this season and the $14 million option for next year are both well below market value for a player of his caliber.

That said, the closer Ramirez gets to free agency, the tougher it may become to get an extension in place without him at least testing the open market. The Atlanta Braves found that out this offseason with Freddie Freeman, who ultimately left to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In the meantime, the Guardians will attempt to bounce back from a lackluster 80-82 record in 2021. It marked the first time since 2012 they finished below .500.

Ramirez will play a major role in that effort as Cleveland lacks consistent power in its lineup outside of him and designated hitter Franmil Reyes.

The Guardians begin the regular season Thursday when they open a four-game road series against the AL Central rival Kansas City Royals.