The search is over. The Padres have found their shortstop of the future. Or at least their shortstop of the present.
alexei ramirez, padres are in agreement on 1-year deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 14, 2016
According to Jon Heyman, the Padres and free-agent shortstop Alexei Ramirez are in agreement on a one-year contract for the 2016 season. The terms have yet to be specified but this looks like a good move for a Padre team in desperate need of a new shortstop for the 2016 season. With Javier Guerra, and to a lesser extent Jose Rondon and Ruddy Giron, in the minor leagues, the Padres needed a short term stop gap to fill the hole until one of those three players is ready to make a big league impact.
Recent reports had the Padres search down to two, the aforementioned Ramirez as well as former Washington National Ian Desmond. With Desmond looking for a more long term commitment with more guaranteed money, signing Ramirez made a world of sense for the Padres on a short term deal. And that is just what the Padres got.
Sources: #Padres close to signing shortstop, but it is not Ian Desmond. Barring a surprise, Alexei Ramirez would appear to be their choice.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 14, 2016
Coming off a down year, Ramirez is entering his age-34 season. Ramirez slashed .249/.285/.357 for the White Sox in 2015, finishing with a wRC+ of just 72 and a negative WAR. The Steamer projections over at Fangraphs have Ramirez at least gaining some of his offense back as well as playing better overall defense, leading to a potential positive WAR in 2016. Ramirez is a clear upgrade over incumbent Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista, who slashed only .204/.257/.287 and was perhaps one of the worst, if not the worst, regular players on any team last season. Despite his struggles in 2015, Ramirez could end up being a bargain for the Padres if he returns to at least a fraction of his previous form.
For the Padres, this was a good move because not only does the team save money by not giving Ian Desmond a big, long term contract, but they also found themselves a short term fill in at shortstop that does not hinder the future of any of the Padres young shortstop prospects. At the end of the day the Padres will likely be at least a win or two better with Ramirez over Amarista. For the Padres trading one Alexi for another Alexei should pay strong dividends next year.