The Cleveland Guardians have reached an agreement with star third baseman José Ramírez on a five-year contract extension worth $124 million, according to ESPN. Ramírez, 29 years old, had previously been under contract through the 2023 season. He had set an Opening Day deadline for reaching a new pact. A three-time All-Star, Ramirez hit .266/.355/.538 last season.
Ramírez was scheduled to make $25 million over the next two seasons before hitting free agency. He had set an Opening Day deadline for reaching a new pact, and the Guardians had been pursuing potential trades in case they failed to reach an agreement before then, per ESPN's Jeff Passan. With the new deal in hand, Ramírez will be guaranteed around $150 million.
Ramírez has blossomed into one of the majors' best players. Over the last three seasons alone, he's batted .267/.350/.528 (132 OPS+) with 76 home runs and 61 stolen bases (on 72 tries). His contributions have been worth an estimated 12.2 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference's calculations.
Ramírez appears to have left money -- possibly substantive money -- on the table to remain with the Guardians. Anthony Rendon signed a seven-year pact worth $245 million with the Los Angeles Angeles prior to the 2020 season. Rendon was entering his age-30 season and had accumulated a 144 OPS+ and 18.2 WAR in the three seasons prior (though it should be noted in direct comparisons like these that Ramírez's counting stats were suppressed by the pandemic-shortened 2020 season).
For the Guardians, Ramírez's contract is the biggest investment in a single player in franchise history, surpassing the $60 million free-agent contract signed by Edwin Encarnación in advance of the 2017 season, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Ramírez is the second notable Guardians player to sign on long-term in the past week, joining closer Emmanuel Clase, who re-upped for five years and $20 million. Those extensions put a bow on an offseason that had otherwise been void of activity for the Guardians. Even now, Cleveland's lone big-league free-agent signing this winter was of backup catcher Luke Maile, who will begin the season on the injured list because of a hamstring issue.