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Could the Dodgers superstar shortstop be the next player to sign a contract extension?
First, the Dodgers gave Don Mattingly three more years. Then, Clayton Kershaw agreed to stay for seven more. Could superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez be next up for an extended contract?
A new deal for Ramirez would not come as a surprise. After all, it seems as though the Dodgers' deep pockets are practically endless.
Ramirez is the last big-name player on the team who could end up as a free agent after the 2014 season. But he also is not a lock for a long-term deal a la the seven years the Dodgers gave to Clayton Kershaw this week.
While the team definitely wants Ramirez on the roster for a few more years, the 30-year-old comes as a mixed bag. He is extremely talented, but almost just as vulnerable to injury.
In 2013 alone, we watched as he broke his thumb, pulled his hamstring, injured his shoulder and broke a rib. It is hard not to feel bad for the guy, especially with the broken rib he suffered during the playoffs.
Even amid all these injuries, Ramirez pulled out a fantastic season with a .402 on-base percentage, .638 slugging, 57 RBI, 20 home runs and 25 doubles in just over 330 at bats. He will return healthy in 2014, without any off-season surgeries to recover from.
Ramirez is a popular player throughout the organization. Fans certainly want him extended and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told reporters last week that he has had some conversations with Ramirez's agent about a new contract.
Don Mattingly may be his biggest fan. He absolutely gushes over the shortstop. Multiple times last season he would say that every day Ramirez plays, he has the chance to be the best player on the field.
So what happens if an extension cannot be agreed upon? Ramirez will hit the open market after the 2014 season and, depending on his performance, the Dodgers could end up in a heated bidding war to bring him back.
He could be the top free agent of the 2014 off-season. Without Ramirez, the Dodgers are left looking at Justin Sellers and Dee Gordon while they wait for Corey Seager, one of their top prospects, to be ready for the bigs.
Many believe that Ramirez will get his extension before the season starts. If he does, it should end up somewhere around three, maybe four, years for $20 to $23 million per season. If he does not sign, then things will get really interesting next off-season.