While Yasiel Puig continues to suck all the bandwidth out of the room and Clayton Kershaw seems bound headlong for another Cy Young, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez has rather quietly been outstanding when healthy this season. Across 243 plate appearances in 2013, Ramirez owns a stellar batting line of .348/.395/.629 with 13 homers, 20 doubles and nine steals in 10 attempts. The numbers and the eyeballs both say Ramirez is back to vintage form after disappointing 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
On that point, it's worth noting that the 29-year-old shortstop is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. That has Ramirez and the Dodgers floating the idea of a contract extension. Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Dodgers lead owner Mark Walter says the team is "absolutely" willing to talk extension with Ramirez. As for Ramirez, he told Hernandez this of the Dodgers: "I want to stay here forever."
To be sure, both parties often say such things, even if the end result is the player's going elsewhere. But Ramirez is clearly reborn in L.A., and the Dodgers are nothing if not financially committed to the cause.
Should discussions begin in earnest, the Dodgers would do well to think of Ramirez as a player who may soon need to be moved off of shortstop and back to third base. With that said, Ramirez's bat will play anywhere, and, if healthy and primed to hit as did from 2007 through 2009 (or even better than that), then he's a middle-of-the-order guy for at least the next handful of seasons. Those are hard to come by.
Of course, the potential $200-million colossus in the room is Kershaw, who's also eligible for free agency after 2014. It's safe to say that between Ramirez and the franchise lefty, the money in Chavez Ravine likely won't stop flowing anytime soon.