Tim Brown of Yahoo affirmed that the Dodgers and Hanley are in negotiations:
"With Kershaw behind Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez negotiations remain in early stages and ongoing.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 20, 2014"
The Dodgers know that Hanley Ramirez is a MVP-caliber player when healthy and motivated, even though he left on bad terms with Miami when he was traded along with Randy Choate to the Dodgers in exchange for Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Scott McGough in 2012. Since the trade, Hanley has been nothing short of happy-go-lucky and has been a positive addition to the Dodgers clubhouse. His attractive ever present smile and playing through the pain attitude has proven that Ramirez is dedicated to the Dodgers and Los Angeles.
He pushed himself to play with a broken rib in the NLCS. Even though he probably shouldn’t have, he didn’t want to give up. The Red Birds really had the upper hand after Hanley became fractured. Without Hanley in the lineup, the Dodgers couldn’t win that uphill battle.
Hanley wants to stay and play in L.A., the fans want him to remain in L.A., and the Dodgers want him healthy and in their lineup. The question is how much is a Hanley Ramirez contract worth? Hanley only played in 86 games for the Dodgers last season after battling a torn thumb ligament which occurred just before the season began while playing in the World Baseball Classic, he had hamstring issues, and his chronic back problems also popped up all before he was struck with that stinging Joe Kelly fastball during that fateful first inning of Game 1 of the NLCS.
While the rib fracture and torn thumb were fluke injuries, Hanley’s chronic back problems may factor into his contract extension numbers. Hanley, who stays positive and receives daily treatment for his back, played through this pain with constant medical management. It is still unclear who will replace head athletic trainer Sue Falsone who parted ways with the Dodgers back in October. Let’s hope that whatever medical staff the Dodgers put together for 2014 will be able to keep Hanley healthy.
Hanley will earn $16 million in 2014 which is his last year of his $70 million contract extension he received from the Marlins in 2008. The first year of Hanley’s contract with the Marlins saw him win the batting title, but after that things unraveled and he never was as successful with Miami as in 2009 when he hit .349 over 151 games.
The 30-year old may have to agree to a stipulation in a potential contract agreement that he would be willing to slide over to third base from shortstop eventually once Corey Seager is ready. Hanley, who feels most comfortable at shortstop, was surprisingly acceptable at shortstop last season. He did make 13 errors, but his potent bat in the lineup overshadowed his below-average defense.
Hanley, although hurt for much of the season, still placed eighth in MVP voting in 2013 after hitting .345 with 20 homeruns and 57 RBIs. When healthy, Hanley is one of the best hitters in the league, and the Dodgers need him in the lineup in order to capture that elusive trophy this fall.
How much is Hanley worth to the Dodgers? Will he get upwards of $100 million? Troy Tulowitzki, who is a bit younger than Hanley, is currently three years into his 10-year $157.5 million deal with Colorado. Ian Desmond will make $6.5 and $11 million for 2014 and 2015. 34-year old Adrian Beltre is in a 5-year $80 million with the Rangers. It is not too far-fetched to give Hanley around $15-17 million for perhaps 5-7 years which would put him around the $100 million mark or potentially higher. Or could Hanley’s exceptional hitting talent bring those numbers up? There’s no doubt that a healthy Hanley is more lethal of a hitter than the aforementioned shortstops at this point in their careers.
Homerin’ Hanley is happy in L.A., and I hope we are able to watch him play for the Dodgers for years to come. Hanley has been posting workout photos and videos on Instagram, and it looks like he is raring to go for 2014. Imagine a full season of Hanley. If the Dodgers had Hanley for those first two months of last season, they might have finished the year 20 games ahead in the division.
The Dodgers locked up their best pitcher, and now it’s time to lock up their best hitter.