The longtime White Sox shortstop agreed to a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres on Thursday. He leaves the Sox after 1,226 games; 4,999 plate appearances; 109 home runs; 542 RBIs; 135 stolen bases; and two Silver Slugger awards.
Those are respectable numbers, but it was time for Ramirez, 34, and the Sox to part ways, and I think both sides knew that when the team declined Ramirez's club option for $10 million late last year.
Ramirez is just two years removed from one of his finest seasons. In 2014, he posted a .273/.305/.408 slash line with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. That production earned him the second of his Silver Slugger awards.
However, he regressed in 2015, finishing at .249/.285/.357 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs. He slumped badly early in the season, contributing to a Sox swoon that caused the team to be buried with a 28-38 record by mid-June.
Here are the split stats for Ramirez from last season:
First half: .224/.249/.292, 2 HRs, 27 RBIs
Second half: .277/.325/.432, 8 HRs, 35 RBIs
Almost all the damage done by Ramirez came in the second half with the team out of the race. It smelled like a contract drive to me. No doubt, Ramirez wanted that $10 million option picked up. But the reality is, he isn't worth that money any longer, and the Sox were not wrong to head in a different direction.
That's not to say the Padres are stupid for signing Ramirez. Far from it. San Diego used four different shortstops last year, and I think it's fair to say Ramirez is an upgrade over the two players who got most of the starts at shortstop in San Diego last year -- Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes.
Moreover, Ramirez provides an everyday reliability at a key position. He has played 154 games or more at shortstop in each of the past six seasons. Ramirez is the kind of guy who expects himself to play every day, and that's not a bad thing for a San Diego club that is looking for some short-term stability at shortstop.
The Padres recently acquired a good shortstop prospect from the Boston Red Sox in Javier Guerra. They see him as their future at that position, but he's only 20 years old and at least a year or two away. Ramirez is a good stopgap solution on a short-term deal.
As for the Sox, Tyler Saladino appears to be the heir apparent at shortstop. There is every reason to believe Saladino has a good enough glove to play the position. The bat is a question mark, and that's why the Sox could still use another offensive upgrade at corner outfield or designated hitter. Saladino is OK as a No. 9 hitter and starting shortstop, as long as there aren't glaring holes in other spots in the lineup. I think the Sox are still a move short of being able to say that at this stage.