White Sox sign Alexei Ramirez kinda long term

It’s a 4/$32.5mil deal. So it will run from 2011-2014 and cover his age 29-32 seasons.

I like it, but I don’t like it. The AAV will be about $8.1mil per season. That values him as about a 1.5-2 WAR player.

In 2008, Alexei Ramirez produced just 0.9 fWAR when he was a below average hitter and fielder. Since then he has arguably been the best defensive shortstop in baseball and produced a 2.2 fWAR in 2009 and a 3.8 fWAR in 2010.

Ramirez would have been paid $1.1mil 2011 and then would have been arbitration eligible in 2012 and 2013.

So lets get into it. I think as a whole he will be underpaid. Yes, defense declines with age and this deal does carry him into his 30s. Yes, his value is tied into his defense, so if it slips he is no longer valuable or that good of a player. But he is projected by the fans to have a 3.4 fWAR in 2011 and being conservative, with okay defense and below average offense, Ramirez should still be worth 2-2.5 WAR, which means he is worth more than the $8.1mil he will be paid.

HOWEVER…he would have made $1.1mil in 2011 as previously mentioned. I also don’t think he would have sniffed $8mil in arbitration. He might have come close, but $8mil for a player who hit .282/.313/.431 in a full season last year seems a bit much considering teams and arbiters probably do not use advanced stats in negotiations. Using the similarity score on B-R, Ramirez was linked to Yunel Escobar and Erick Aybar. Escobar, like Ramirez, is entering his fourth big league season, and in my opinion and according to stats, is a better player. He settled for $2.9mil and even with pay increases in 2012 and 2013, it seems unlikely Escobar- the better player- will reach $8mil through arbitration. Erick Aybar is a fifth year player and settled for $3mil.

So yeah, compared to similar players, who are younger, it looks like the White Sox are overpaying Ramirez compared to what they could have paid to sign him long term.

Granted, they might save some money in 2014 when Ramirez was headed to free agency, but how much would he have honestly made? He would be turning 33, his offense would presumably be even worse, and his defense should be on the decline. Even with inflation, I didn’t see Ramirez getting more than $10mil in 2014.

So…for his relative value, yeah, the White Sox are underpaying him slightly. But considering they could have kept his services through 2013, and maybe even beyond, for less money, I think it’s a bad deal.

I also don’t like going long term on players like Ramirez. His value is tied up in his position/defense and if his defense falters, he’s done. And $8mil will be a lot to pay a black hole if that happens.

 

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