The White Sox declined to pick up a $10 million option for Alexei Ramirez on Wednesday.
Ramirez — a member of the White Sox for the last eight seasons — is set to become a free agent on Saturday morning after the club bought out his contract for $1 million. The move doesn’t entirely rule out a reunion as the White Sox could still re-sign Ramirez in free agency.
While Ramirez produced like a $10 million player in 2014, winning the Silver Slugger Award and being named a Gold Glove finalist, he was one of the worst players in the majors for the first three months last season as he struggled with the glove and at the plate.
Ramirez improved over the final three months and produced a .249/.285/.357 slash line with 10 homers and 62 RBIs in 622 plate appearances last season. Even so, he was only worth minus-0.5 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com, down from 3.1 WAR the previous year.
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“We’ve only had preliminary discussions about direction this offseason,” said executive vice president Kenny Williams. “Rick (Hahn) has to survey the landscape at the GM meetings and I’m sure once he’s comfortable will present Jerry (Reinsdorf) and I with his ideas. It’s not for me to comment on Alexei one way or another right now other than to sing his praises for what he’s done in a Sox uniform from the first day he put the hat on.”
If Ramirez doesn’t return, the White Sox would either turn to Tyler Saladino or perhaps look for a stopgap through free agency or trade as their future clearly lies in the hands of Tim Anderson.
But while Anderson has had a very good career so far, many observers both inside and out of the organization believe he would benefit from more time in the minors.
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Anderson, the 17th overall pick in the 2013 draft, hit .312/.350/.429 and stole 49 bases at Double-A Birmingham last season. But he also struck out 114 times, walked 24 and committed 25 errors.
Saladino impressed the White Sox with his glove when he seamlessly made the transition from shortstop to third base at the major league level. He produced 12 Defensive Runs Saved, which tied for fourth among all third baseman in the majors.
The club knows Saladino is a natural shortstop and would be comfortable with him from a defensive standpoint. But Saladino also finished with a .602 OPS in 254 plate appearances, including a .190/.242/.345 slash line in 16 games in September (62 PAs).