He’s in the final year of a contract that pays him $14.6 million this year (with a $2 million buyout owed after the season), and he’s got a $16 million option that kicks in for 2012 if he’s traded. Worse, his skills and interest in the game appear to be eroding rapidly. He’s battled leg issues this year, and he’s hitting just .288/.343/.394 with 2 homers and 21 RBI. You don’t need to look up his career numbers to know he’s having his worst year in a decade.
Now, there’s another hurdle: Ramirez plans to invoke his no-trade rights* in any deal that would send him out of town.
“He doesn’t even want to take a trade. He took less years and less money to stay in Chicago (in 2006), so that is definitely his first option,” Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer said today. “Aramis has a full no-trade clause, so he doesn’t want to go anywhere. He’s a 10-and-5 guy and I don’t think he’ll go anywhere. We will have to see when it comes to that.”
Kinzer also said that he hasn’t had any discussions with the Cubs about Ramirez’s future, which could be in doubt – not just with the Cubs, but baseball altogether. Ramirez has hinted at an early retirement here and there, but has never out-and-out said he’s going to hang them up. You do have to wonder about a guy who would reject a trade to a contender – which trade would also guarantee him a $16 million contract next year.
Obviously things can change as the season goes on – Derrek Lee told the Cubs he would not accept a trade last year, and even rejected a deal to the Angels, before ultimately accepting a trade to the Braves.
On the list of likely Cubs to go next month, Ramirez is probably somewhere near the middle – below the obvious suspects (Fukudome, Byrd, Zambrano; even possibly Dempster and Wood), but above the younger crew (Castro, Soto, Marmol, Marshall, Garza, Barney, etc.). Whatever happens, Ramirez is not expected back with the Cubs in 2012 – though who will replace him remains something of a mystery.
*Note that, although Ramirez’s original contract – through 2010 – gave him a no-trade clause, the no-trade rights for 2011 come by virtue of his status as a 10/5 player. Can’t blame Jim Hendry for this one.