BOCA RATON, Fla. — He’s open to a reunion with the White Sox, but Alexei Ramirez won’t wait around for them, either.
The free agent shortstop has begun to explore his market as he’s set to meet with two potential suitors at the General Manager’s meetings on Tuesday, according to a major league source.
The San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays are among the clubs believed to be interested in Ramirez, who lives about an hour away from the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Miami. Ramirez became a free agent at 11:01 p.m. CST on Friday after the White Sox — his only team for the past eight seasons — declined his $10 million club option last Wednesday.
Though the White Sox sound as if they’re ready to entrust the job to Tyler Saladino, GM Rick Hahn said Monday they haven’t ruled out bringing back Ramirez, who hit .249/.285/.357 with 10 homers and 62 RBI in 622 plate appearances.
“We haven’t closed the door on potentially bringing Alexei back,” Hahn said. “He served us extremely well for eight years in a White Sox uniform and obviously middle infield is a position of interest for us going into the offseason. We’ll continue talking to his guy. Nothing has been shut for the future just yet.”
Hahn said last week’s move partly was about cost — that the White Sox didn’t want to pay Ramirez $10 million this season.
An All-Star in 2014, Ramirez was weighed down by personal issues for the first three months of the season and produced one of the worst performances in baseball. He rebounded nicely in the second half, but still was only worth minus-0.5 Wins Above Replacement.
But given his second-half performance, the White Sox potentially could bring Ramirez back on a lesser deal. As much as Ramirez desires to return to the only baseball home he knows, there’s some belief the veteran will find far too rich a market to accept a discounted deal.
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“He’s a proven commodity and (you have) a decent idea of what you’re going to get going forward,” Hahn said Monday. “Again, it’s a fairly scarce position, so I’m sure his market will be strong.”