The Cleveland Indians locked up INF Jose Ramirez with a five-year, $26 million extension last March. After having signed for a whopping $50,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, this was a life-changing commitment for Ramirez, and the contract has already become a bargain for the Tribe. Fortunately for Cleveland, it appears that it will become an even greater steal in the coming seasons.
The 2017 season was a continuation of the 2016 breakout for Ramirez. After posting a 3.9 bWAR in 2016, Ramirez went on to place 3rd in AL MVP voting while amassing a 6.9 bWAR in 2017. The versatile, 5’9″ switch-hitter led the majors in doubles (56), won the Silver Slugger for AL third base, was a first-time All-Star, and ranked 8th in MLB with his 148 wRC+.
Based on research by Dave Cameron (FanGraphs, many times over), Matt Schwartz (free agent inflation for WAR costs at FanGraphs) and Lewie Pollis (my former boss and current employee of the Philadelphia Phillies), the cost of a win within WAR is between six to eight million and could be approaching $11 million in the next several years. If you consider the 10.8 bWAR that Ramirez has provided for the $1,489,600 in salary that he has earned the last two seasons, he will provide surplus value regardless of what he does over the next several seasons.
Even if the Indians paid Ramirez the remaining $25 million in guaranteed money or the $39 million he would receive if both of his options were to be picked up, the 25-year-old would continue to be a bargain, as his production to this point has allowed for the Indians to rake in statistics at Target Dollar Stop values. Cleveland has paid less than $140,000 per win to this point. Should Ramirez revert back to role player (1-2 WAR) status for the remainder of the deal, Cleveland would have gained more than they’ve lost in the talented, young star.
Certainly, no one with a block “C” or the villainous Chief Wahoo cap would be excited to see a repeat of Grady Sizemore, but Tribe fans have a lot to bank on with Jose Ramirez…and it isn’t going to break their beloved club’s bank in the process.