Brewers land Aramis Ramirez with 3-year deal
Chicago Cubs' Aramis Ramirez breaks his bat as he hits a pop out to Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder during the seventh inning of a baseball game, July 26, 2011, in Milwaukee. / AP Photo/Morry Gash
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms on a three-year contract with free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez on Monday, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed.
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract will be worth about $36 million.
Ramirez will provide a much-needed big bat for the Brewers, who are expected to lose first baseman Prince Fielder through free agency and may be without NL MVP Ryan Braun for the first 50 games of next season if he loses his appeal for testing positive for a banned substance.
Agent Paul Kinzer said Ramirez expects the Brewers to be a contender next season, a critical factor in his decision.
2012 MLB Free Agents
"That was one of his criteria," Kinzer said. "There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list."
Kinzer said Ramirez also likes the idea of playing indoors at Miller Park early in the season.
The 33-year-old Ramirez played 149 games for the NL Central rival Chicago Cubs last year, batting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. Ramirez played the past eight-plus seasons with the Cubs after he was traded by Pittsburgh to Chicago in the middle of the 2003 season.
His deal is subject to a successful physical.
Milwaukee began last season with Casey McGehee as its regular third baseman, but McGehee's performance slipped after his breakout 2010 season. Jerry Hairston Jr., acquired in a midseason trade with the Washington Nationals, took over at third base for the Brewers late in the season.
Bringing back Hairston was no longer an option for the Brewers after he signed a $6 million, two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Late on Monday, the Brewers traded McGehee to Pittsburgh for right-handed reliever Jose Veras, who went 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA and one save in a career-high 79 appearances last season.
Getting more production from third base will be even more critical for the Brewers next year, especially if they lose Fielder and are without Braun for a significant chunk of the season. On Saturday, Braun's representatives issued a statement maintaining his innocence. Braun's appeal is expected to be held in January.
Major League Baseball is 12-0 in defending drug suspensions in arbitration.
The Brewers also finalized their one-year contract with free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez, a deal that includes an option for 2013 that could become guaranteed.
"Alex brings to our ballclub a veteran presence who has experienced winning in the postseason," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. "He is a plus defender who will be a welcome addition to our infield."
The 34-year-old Gonzalez batted .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBIs in 149 games with Atlanta last season.
He made 146 starts at shortstop and had a .981 fielding percentage, which ranked third in the NL and fifth in the major leagues at his position.
Gonzalez is expected to replace last year's regular shortstop, Yuniesky Betancourt, who is a free agent.
The Brewers also agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract with catcher George Kottaras, avoiding arbitration, and to minor league deals with catcher Mike Rivera and first baseman Travis Ishikawa. They will report to major league spring training.
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