Finally, a definitive answer.
For weeks, it has been reported and assumed by everyone (except Bruce Levine) that Aramis Ramirez’s weighty 2012 club option ($16 million) would automatically vest if he is traded. If true, Ramirez’s 2012 option would prove a significant stumbling block to trading him this year. While a number of teams would like to add his bat, how many would be willing to take him on for 2012 at $16 million is uncertain. And, even if the Cubs could find such a team, the return they’d receive for Ramirez would be greatly reduced.
But now Bruce Levine is stating unequivocally something he’s been suggesting for a while: “Contrary to what has been widely reported about Ramirez’s contract, there is not an option year that kicks in if he’s traded. Here’s the thumbnail sketch of Ramirez’s contract. He has roughly $7 million left in salary for 2011. He, as well as the Cubs, hold[s] an option for 2012 at $16 million dollars. If the team doesn’t exercise its option, Ramirez is owed $2 million as a buyout. If he’s traded to another team, Ramirez receives a $1 million relocation bonus.”
So, the total financial commitment remaining to Ramirez, if he’s traded, is just about $10 million for the remainder of the 2011 season. Obviously that’s better than having the $16 million option attached, but it’s still a pretty significant chunk of change for a few months of play. I suspect that, in order to trade Ramirez, the Cubs would still have to kick in some cash if they wanted to receive a worthwhile set of prospects.
Levine adds that, while Ramirez has said he will not waive his no-trade rights, there are “rumblings” that he would do so in August, after his family has returned to the Dominican Republic for the Fall. I’ve read that elsewhere, as well. If the Cubs were to try and trade Ramirez in August – after the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31 – he would either have to pass through waivers, or, if he is claimed on waivers, the Cubs could trade him only to the claiming team. If it comes to that, here’s hoping teams think his salary is too high for them to claim him on waivers.