GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There might be more nicks and scratches on Jose Ramirez's helmet than on those belonging to the Tribe's other players. Given his choppy strides on the basepaths, it does not take long for it to come loose and tumble to the dirt. Teammates have joked that Ramirez
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There might be more nicks and scratches on Jose Ramirez's helmet than on those belonging to the Tribe's other players. Given his choppy strides on the basepaths, it does not take long for it to come loose and tumble to the dirt. Teammates have joked that Ramirez needs a chin strap.
Maybe the helmet won't stay put, but Ramirez is not going anywhere for a while. On Tuesday, the Indians officially announced that the energetic infielder has been signed to a five-year extension, which includes team options for the 2022 and '23 seasons. The contract is worth $26 million guaranteed.
"I'm really happy," Ramirez said through team translator Anna Bolton. "It means a lot that they believed in me and that they kept their faith in me, and I just really appreciate it and I thank them for that."
Ramirez's deal comes on the heels of a strong showing last season, when he filled in as the left fielder while Michael Brantley was sidelined and then eventually found a home at third base. Ramirez was the team's starting shortstop before Francisco Lindor's rise to the Majors, and now Ramirez is working out at second base, where he might fill in while Jason Kipnis (right shoulder) is sidelined.
While Ramirez has bounced all over the diamond, Cleveland always felt he had the potential to be more than a utility man. Last year, the 24-year-old switch-hitter not only emerged as an everyday player for the Indians, but he developed into one of baseball's breakout stars.
"When we sort of seemed like we had the ultimate down with Brantley out," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "[Ramirez] comes into the fold and not only picks up some of the slack, but proves that he's an everyday Major League player. And also, to add to that, you get the versatility that he can do, and it makes him even better. We're excited. He deserves a lot of credit."
Over 152 games last year, Ramirez hit .312 with 11 home runs, 46 doubles, three triples and 76 RBIs. He stole 22 bases, drew 44 walks in comparison to 62 strikeouts, and he crossed the plate 84 times. Ramirez ranked second in the American League in doubles, seventh in batting average and 10th in on-base percentage (.363).
With Ramirez's ability to put the ball in play -- he ranked second in the AL with an 88.8-percent contact rate last year -- Francona liked slotting him in as Cleveland's No. 5 hitter. Ramirez rewarded that trust by hitting .346 with runners on base, .355 with runners in scoring position and .366 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
The contract, which included Ramirez's $571,400 salary for this season, covers all three arbitration years plus his first season of free-agent eligibility. The deal includes a $2 million signing bonus, along with a $2 million buyout prior to the team options, which are worth $11 million (2022) and $13 million ('23). The option years also include $1 million in escalators, bringing the pact's maximum potential value to $50 million.
Ramirez will earn $2,428,600 in 2018, followed by salaries of $3.75 million in '19, $6.25 million in '20 and $9 million in '21. That's not bad for a player who was originally signed by Cleveland out of Bani, Dominican Republic, for a $50,000 bonus at 17 years old in '09.
"It's a really cool story," said Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations. "[He's'] a guy who signed out of the Dominican Republic for not a big signing bonus, wasn't given anything on his journey throughout the Minor Leagues and earned every opportunity that he got along the way."
Ramirez becomes the ninth player on Cleveland's current roster who has signed an extension.
"Our general strategy is to try to lock up young players," Indians owner Paul Dolan said. "And we will continue to do that where it makes sense for the team and for the player."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.