If we simply combined Jose Ramirez's 2014 and 2015 production, we all would have seen 2016 coming, right? Well, except his batting average would have been around .240 instead of the .312 he hit last season. Ramirez went from an afterthought on draft day to a serviceable fantasy asset in 2016 in many ways. The power department is a bit light, but he should score runs, drive some in, steal bases and hit for average while qualifying at both third base and the outfield in 2017. He is an extreme contact hitter who sprays the ball around the yard. There could be some more thump on the way if his positive GB/FB trend continues and he gets some HR/FB fluctuation. He is just 24 but already has over 1,250 plate appearances in the big leagues. Ramirez looks like a bat-first player instead of the glove-first prospect profile that got him to the majors at 21. Don't bank on growth, but even his new foundation will help as a fantasy depth piece.
Ramirez is expected to work at second base while Jason Kipnis (shoulder) is sidelined, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The Indians want to get their money's worth out of Ramirez after just inking him to a four-year contract extension this week. The team will have a battle in the remaining weeks of camp to determine who will start at the hot corner with Ramirez sliding over to the keystone.
Ramirez has signed a four-year, $26 million extension with the Indians, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports. This contract will keep Ramirez under Cleveland's control through at least the 2021 season, and it includes a pair of club options, which would cover up to three years after Ramirez could become a free agent. After hitting .312/.363/.462 in 2016, Ramirez brought plus offense at third base to go with a glove that arguably belongs at shortstop, so it's easy to see why Cleveland is so optimistic about his future.
Ramirez may begin the season as the Tribe's second baseman, then move back to third once Jason Kipnis (shoulder) returns, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Kipnis is projected to miss at least the first couple weeks of the regular season, but the current timetable remains a bit cloudy. Ramirez owners won't complain if Kipnis needs an extra week or two. The Tribe have 25 games in April, and Ramirez could earn eligibility at second base -- increasing his value -- if he spends most of the season's opening month playing there.
Manager Terry Francona hinted Ramirez will hit fifth, behind Edwin Encarnacion, in the batting order, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer reports. Francona says it's too early for him to establish a definitive lineup, but the Tribe manager is thinking about it. The skipper has penciled in Encarnacion as the No. 4 hitter, replacing the departed Mike Napoli, and said their new slugger needs to be protected. He elaborated, "Jose [Ramirez] did a great job behind Nap last season," indicating Ramirez will once again hit fifth. The Tribe's switch-hitting third baseman batted .312 versus right-handers and .311 against southpaws, producing a .355 batting average with runners in scoring position. The 24-year-old Ramirez dropped 11 home runs with 76 RBI and finished second in the league with 46 doubles.
Indians manager Terry Francona said that Ramirez "is the third baseman" and that there are no plans for him to move to left field at the moment, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The 24-year-old had a solid year in his first year of full-time duty, posting an .825 OPS thanks to 46 doubles and 11 home runs, leading some to want the youngster to move to left field until Michael Brantley (shoulder) is game-ready again. However, Francona quelled those thoughts, stating that the only other spot Ramirez might work at is shortstop just in case something were to happen to Francisco Lindor, but for the foreseeable future, it seems like Ramirez will be staying put at the hot corner.