Ramírez, Guardians agree on 5-year, $124M deal


CLEVELAND (AP) — José Ramírez forced the Guardians to go deep into their pockets.

The All-Star third baseman agreed to a five-year, $124 million contract extension on the eve of opening day with Cleveland, a franchise that hasn’t been able to swing with baseball’s big spenders over the years.

Ramírez’s deal runs through the 2028 season, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Ramírez still must take a physical and numerous other details need to be finalized before the contract is official, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Guardians open the 2022 season — their first game since changing their name from Indians — in Kansas City on Thursday.

The team and Ramírez’s representatives had been in talks about an extension for weeks at training camp in Arizona. The 29-year-old Ramírez had expressed a desire to finish his career with Cleveland, which signed him as a teenager in the Dominican Republic.

Ramírez has blossomed into one of baseball’s best all-around players, one capable of impacting the game with his bat, glove and on the bases, where he usually loses his helmet while hustling to the next base.

Cleveland owner Paul Dolan has long been criticized for not spending enough on players as the Guardians have almost served as a feeder to the game’s bigger markets with stars such as Francisco Lindor, Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee wither being traded or leaving as free agents because the team couldn’t afford to keep them.

But in the past few days, the Guardians locked up Ramírez and agreed to a five-year extension with closer Emmanuel Clase.

With Ramírez anchoring their lineup and a solid starting rotation, the Guardians should be able to stay in contention in the AL Central.

Ramírez’s new deal doubles the largest contract Cleveland has ever given a player, topping the $60 million committed to slugger Edwin Encarnacion five years ago.

Ramírez had two years left on a five-year, $26 million contract extension he signed in 2016. That deal included two team options — $12 million in 2022 and $14 million next season — that made him the highest-paid player on Cleveland’s roster.

His new deal also includes a full no-trade clause.

A three-time All-Star, Ramírez batted .266 with 36 homers and 103 RBIs last season. He’s finished in the top three in MVP voting three times in the past five seasons.