The Los Angeles Dodgers took care of Clayton Kershaw’s contract in the off-season and next up on the to-do list appears to be Hanley Ramirez. The 30-year-old shortstop is entering the final season of his contract and reports of he and the Dodgers discussing an extension have been few and far between. No longer as young or spry as he once was, common belief is Ramirez will need to transition to third base in the near future.
In 2012, Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers in large part because his relationship with the Florida Marlins was damaged after they signed Jose Reyes, which shifted Ramirez to third. Now older and perhaps with a renewed perspective, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that Ramirez is well aware of and open to the forthcoming position change:
When we’ve talked privately in my office – I’ve asked him, ‘Honestly, where do you think you’re going to end up?’ And he says, ‘Third base.’ I think he knows as you get older, you make that move.
Ramirez hit .345 last season, a career high, and with Yasiel Puig, helped engineer the Dodgers turnaround. Likely being a highly sought after commodity on the open market, Ramirez told Plunkett he won’t let his affinity for playing shortstop dictate whether he re-signs with the Dodgers or signs elsehwere:
I just want to win, man, he said. I’m a team player.
The willingness to move to third may be traced back to Ramirez’s experience in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Ramirez agreed to play at the hot corner for the Dominican Republic, who defeated Puerto Rico for the championship. While Ramirez is open to playing third base, he does stipulate that the change would be permanent, according to Plunkett:
Everybody knows how I feel and Donnie knows how I feel. I just want to win. I’m just going to play wherever they need me to play. The only thing I asked them is not to make me go back and forth (between positions).
The Dodgers, nor Ramirez have stated whether or not contract talks will cease once the regular season beings, but what is clear is both sides are undeniably interested in keeping Ramirez in Los Angeles. News that he would be open to the position change should bode well for the Dodgers moving forward, as they have an influx of infield prospects, led by Erisbel Arruebarruena, Alex Guerrero and Corey Seager, who could be the next shorstop for years to come.
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