Pull up a chair and come sit down at our Lasorda’s Lair roundtable discussion. This new column will feature a different discussion topic each time which our writing staff will have the opportunity to address individually. We also would like for you to participate by answering the roundtable question in the comments below.
Question: Should the Dodgers extend Hanley Ramirez to a new contract before he hits free agency after this season?
Adrian Garcia, Staff Writer- I’d be lying if I thought there were better options available. Jed Lowrie is just as injury prone, Asdrubal Cabrera is as bad a defender, J.J. Hardy is what he is, a good defender who simply can’t get on base and also a year older and we’re not going to gloss over his hamstring issues this year, are we? That’s it, as far as the market goes for shortstops. You could always venture into the Rafael Furcal‘s and Mike Aviles‘s of the world, but I’m not sure you’d want to. And as for the farm, Erisbel Arruebarrena can’t even hit AA pitching, OPS’ing at a .390 rate, it’s been said that at best he’s a mid-.550 OPS 8 hole hitter with top 5 defense. So that’s pretty comparable to Alcides Escobar, assuming Arruebarrena figures out base running, which is fine, but that’s not Hanley Ramirez. I’d doubt they’d scrap Alexander Guerrero’s attempt to move to 2b and keep him at SS, while the defense might be just as bad (not unreasonable to think it’ll be worse), the offense probably won’t be anywhere near Hanley. And lets never, ever, ever, ever see Dee Gordon in a major league uniform at shortstop ever again. So while it’s hard to give Hanley a huge deal and expect him to live up to it, what else can the Dodgers do? I say they give him a nicely valued 5 year deal at an ungodly amount of money to make up for the years he isn’t getting.
Aaron David Gleason, Staff Writer- Of course…because, even though he is struggling a bit now, he is always one of our best bats and he’s a good clubhouse guy. Besides, who do we have that can come near to his ability? Guerrero? No, he’ll be at Third after Uribe. Or he’ll back up Hanley.
Kenny Shulsen, Senior Staff Writer- Absolutely. Hanley is a special talent who should be able to stick at shortstop while Juan Uribe is still under contract, and then move to 3rd base if/when Corey Seager arrives in a couple of years. Hanley has made it clear that he wants to be a Dodger long-term and the Dodgers need to reciprocate. If they were willing to give a clearly declining Andre Ethier $15 million per year, a decision that looks like a colossal mistake IMO, then signing someone long-term, who can still produce, unlike Ethier, needs to be done. If Hanley hits the open market it will only drive up his price, get him signed now so this question doesn’t linger over him all season.
Julian Lopez, Staff Writer- Since the trade in late 2012, Hanley Ramirez has been nothing short of spectacular for the Dodgers even though he missed half the season last year. Ramirez is the perfect #3/#4 hitter for the Dodgers and is one of the best shortstops in the game. His defense is subpar but he makes up for it with his offensive game. Ramirez is a great contact hitter (career .300 hitter) and also has had six seasons of at least 20 home runs. Hanley is turning 31 this year and is looking for a long-term contract. The Dodgers should give him a 4 to 5 year deal to keep him in Dodger blue until he retires. He loves LA, is a great teammate, and how can you not reward someone after his performance in the 2013 NLCS after he played most of the series with broken ribs. I see the Dodgers trying to get a deal down by the All-Star break and if they can’t, they will wait until the season ends.
Stacie Wheeler, Editor- Yes, the Dodgers should absolutely extend Hanley Ramirez a new contract. Whether he is hitting right now doesn’t change the fact that the Dodgers cannot win a championship without Hanley. Even Vin Scully thinks so, and he commented on that exact subject during the Giants series this past weekend. Hanley is such a talented hitter, one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s abnormal for him to be in the slump that he is in now, but after the ninth inning game-tying homerun on Sunday versus Sergio Romo, perhaps HanRam will get back into his groove. His defense isn’t the best, but he’s one of the best hitting shortstops in the league aside from Troy Tulowitzki. Having power and offense prowess from the shortstop position is something that adds that extra oomph to the lineup. Hanley has suffered multiple injuries since becoming a Dodger, but quite a few were of the fluky type. I have confidence that Hanley will have a big year, and with a healthy Hanley the in October, the Dodgers could go all the way.
Lucas Talbot, Staff Writer- Does Hanley Ramirez does deserve a contract extension with the Dodgers? Absolutely no doubt. Like many Dodgers fans, I do want to see Ramirez retire as a Dodger. His personality fits well in the clubhouse. He is one of the few hearts and soul of the team as well as Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis. Ramirez helped lead the Dodgers to the playoffs in his first full season with LA after coming back from an early spring training injury that sat him out for the first part of the 2013 season. I would like the Dodgers front office and Ramirez’s agent to resolve this early as possible during the season because I can already tell that, despite Ramirez not being involved with the contract talks, is a struggling because the contract negotiation has to be at the back of his mind and it’s not helping the team as the Dodgers are currently struggling. It is also understandable the Dodgers are not quick to give the extension right away because they want to see Ramirez prove to them he can remain healthy in the long run, but I would not let someone of Ramirez’s caliber and potential just walk and sign with another team because that would hurt the Dodgers. I also know Ramirez will get a lot of attention in free agency, so I really hope that Ramirez gets his wish soon. The quicker Ramirez gets his contract extension, the better the Dodgers be more focus to winning.
Ryan Somers, Staff Writer- Clearly the Dodgers can ill-afford to lose Hanley Ramirez’ bat from this lineup. The offense has been plagued with inconsistency the past few years. The only dependable 1-2 punch comes from having Hanley and Adrian Gonzalez batting 3rd and 4th everyday or vice versa. Losing Ramirez would have an immediate impact on Gonzalez’ numbers as well, because there would be more opportunities to pitch around Adrian to get to the next strikeout prone right-handed bat in the lineup, be it Puig, Kemp, Uribe, etc.
The difficulty in this negotiation for Colletti will come with the length of contract Hanley will likely be seeking. The Dodgers obviously have the cash to make it happen, but I would only be willing to give Ramirez a 3/4 year extension, considering that the price-tag is likely to come in around 20/25 Million per season. Hanley’s bat alone justifies those numbers, but his recent injury history would make me leery to go any further than a 3/4 year deal.
If the Dodgers are able to get Ramirez re-signed, I would prefer to see Hanley move back to third base. Ramirez footwork and throwing motion from shortstop have resulted in numerous errors this year, and could have caused many more if not for the slick glovework of Gonzalez. He still has great hands but I feel the rest of his mechanics make him ideal for the hot corner. This move would allow Dee Gordon to shift back to shortstop and open the door for Alex Guerrero at the two bag. I know that Dee had his issues at short last year as well, but I feel the positive experience he has gained since his first big league stint will help him immensely with this transition back to his natural position. These moves would also allow Juan Uribe to return to a supporting role which I think he is best suited for at this stage in his career.
Scott Andes, Editor- Is the pope Catholic? the answer to this should be a resounding yes. I say to those people who believe the Dodgers should wait until the winter in order to give Hanley “incentive” or whatever are out of their minds. There is no way the Dodgers should let a player of Hanley’s talent walk in free agency this winter, especially with no other viable options at the shortstop position. Hanley will be without question one of the best free agent players available this winter. He’s going to be in high demand. Many teams are going to be interested in signing him, and quite a few of them will be without doubt waiting in the wings to swoop up Hanley, and steal him away from us. The Dodgers simply just can’t let that happen. I say lock him up now, so we don’t have to deal with that. Obviously Hanley is dripping with talent from every pore of his body, and should be the Dodger’s shortstop for many many many years until Corey Seager is ready to come up.