BOCA RATON, Fla. — They didn’t want him at $10 million, but the White Sox could still reunite with Alexei Ramirez on a lesser deal.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on Monday the team hasn’t entirely ruled out a reunion in 2016 with the 2014 All-Star and Silver Slugger winner.
But Hahn also expects Ramirez to find a robust market in free agency, which could severely hurt chances the band gets back together. Hahn spoke on the first day of the GM meetings at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, less than a week after the White Sox paid $1 million to buy out Ramirez’s $10 million club option. Ramirez became a free agent at 11:01 p.m. CST on Friday.
“Essentially the decision made (Wednesday) is we weren’t going to pay Alexei $10 million for 2016,” Hahn said. “We haven’t closed the door on potentially bringing Alexei back. 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.”
What could slam the door shut is a market thin on options at shortstop. Ramirez is clearly the most attractive option in free agency and should command at least a two-year deal in the $14-16 million range.
Ramirez has stated his desire to stay on the South Side, his only baseball home since he left Cuba. But the White Sox know Ramirez could be tempted by bigger offers.
“He’s a proven commodity and (you have) a decent idea of what you’re going to get going forward,” Hahn said. “Again, it’s a fairly scarce position, so I’m sure his market will be strong.”
Currently the team’s best option at shortstop is Tyler Saladino, whom the club would be comfortable with from a defensive standpoint. While Saladino is clearly a strong defender, his bat could leave the team wanting more after he produced a .602 OPS lasts season. However, the White Sox have several needs and could go in any number of directions this offseason, which unofficially begins with the GM meetings. Last week, executive vice president Kenny Williams said Hahn would use this week’s meetings to survey the landscape and determine the club’s direction.
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Though he was specifically asked about improvement at catcher, Hahn sounds open to anything.
“I don’t think we can cut off any avenues of getting better right now,” Hahn said. “We’re entering this offseason looking any way we can get better at any spot. We don’t feel we’re in a position to say we’re too good or set at any individual spot and that includes catcher.”
Hahn wouldn’t make any official announcements on Monday, even as reports continue to pour in suggesting former Cubs manager Rick Renteria is set to take over as Robin Ventura’s bench coach.
“We’re optimistic about having an announcement this week,” Hahn said with a laugh.