While Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers’ pitching staff deserve a lot of credit for the team’s incredible turnaround, Hanley Ramirez has been the team’s best hitter when healthy this season, batting .348 with 13 home runs and a 1.025 OPS through 63 games. And the Dodgers are prepared to reward him.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers owner Mark Walter said last night that he is “absolutely” interesting in talking to Ramirez this winter about a contract extension. The 29-year-old is under contract for $14 million next season, after which he can become a free agent.
“I think a guy like Hanley Ramirez, he’s a special, special player,” Walter said. “If you know where we could find five more, we’ll take them all. I don’t think there are five more.”
For his part, Ramirez said he’s “definitely” interested in talking about an extension with the Dodgers and wants to “to stay here forever.”
Clayton Kershaw is also set to become a free agent following the 2014 season, but if there’s any team who could be willing to afford to keep both players, it’s the Dodgers. The deep-pocketed club already has $122 million committed to seven players (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig, and Hyun-Jin Ryu) for 2017.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.