Ramirez is owed $9MM in 2021, the last guaranteed season of the five-year, $26MM extension he signed back in March 2017. He is also controlled through 2023 on a pair of club options that would pay Ramirez $11MM in 2022 ($2MM buyout and $13MM in 2023 (no buyout), with potential bonus clauses that could add another $1MM to each of those option years.
Even at the top potential price tag of $35MM over three years, Ramirez’s is obviously “one of baseball’s biggest bargains,” Rosenthal notes. As Ramirez enters his age-28 season with three top-three MVP finishes over the last four seasons, he would have easily scored more than $200MM if he had been a free agent even in this unusual offseason.
Given the nature of Cleveland’s payroll limitations, it isn’t out of the question that the Indians could explore moving Ramirez before his contract is up. But, Ramirez’s contract makes him far less of a trade chip than Lindor was, since Lindor never signed an extension and thus had a salary that rose considerably every year via the arbitration process. (By comparison’s sake, Ramirez will earn less over the next two seasons than the $22.3MM that Lindor will earn in 2021 alone.) Carrasco was also a bit more expensive, as well as older, and perhaps more expendable given the number of young starters Cleveland’s farm system has been able to generate for the MLB roster.
As evidenced by recent signings of Eddie Rosario and Cesar Hernandez, the Tribe is still planning to contend this season. Should the team stumble, it’s possible we could again hear some whispers of a Ramirez deal around the trade deadline, though the nature of Ramirez’s contract probably means the Indians would hang onto him for at least another full year, barring a broader change in organizational direction.