12/14/11 12:59 PM EST
Aramis signs three-year deal with Brewers
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"I'm at the point where I can't wait, I can't be in a rebuilding process," Ramirez said Wednesday at Miller Park after signing a three-year, $36 million deal. "I think the Brewers are built to win now."
The third baseman opted to leave the Cubs, with whom he played the last 8 1/2 seasons, and join their rivals, the Brewers, who are the defending NL Central champions.
"From a personal standpoint, I've done everything from the All-Star Game to [winning a] Silver Slugger," Ramirez said. "I've done it all basically, but the one thing I'm missing is that ring and that's what I'm looking for."
It'll be tough for the Brewers to repeat without Prince Fielder, who is a free agent, and possibly without NL MVP Ryan Braun, who is appealing a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.
"It's a 25-man roster and you can't replace Prince Fielder," Ramirez said. "He's one of the best hitters in the game. I'm going to do my best and I'll do what I'm capable of. I won't do what I can't, I'll do what I've done my whole career and that's drive in runs and try to play good third base."
That's what Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is looking for.
"When we played them, he was the one guy I feared when he came up with men on base," Melvin said.
Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry called Melvin prior to Wednesday's news conference to endorse the Brewers' choice.
"We're getting one of the top 25 active sluggers in the game today," Melvin said. "He's not going to hit 50, 55 home runs. He's a good pure hitter. I think our ballpark is suited for his swing. It is a big relief to know we have someone hitting behind Ryan, because I think that's very important."
Best of all, the Brewers' home field is indoors.
"I just don't like the cold weather," said Ramirez, who has been a slow starter, and last year hit two home runs in the first two months. "I'm from the Dominican, I'm from an island, and it was always tough early in the season playing in Chicago. Here at Miller Park, I won't have to deal with it."
Besides staying in the NL Central, what sold Ramirez on the Brewers was a chance to chat with manager Ron Roenicke in Los Angeles. Ramirez went to the West Coast to meet with the Angels, one of three teams pursuing him, and took time to talk to Roenicke and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio at the Brentwood Country Club. Roenicke was impressed with how much Ramirez knew about the Brewers' roster.
"We talked about everything," Ramirez said. "We talked for an hour and a half. I had a good meeting out there. [Roenicke] looked like a great baseball guy and that's what it came down to. I sense they want to win. They're going to do everything they can to win now, and that's what I'm looking for."
The Brewers' discussions with Ramirez's agent, Paul Kinzer, began at the General Manager Meetings in Milwaukee in November and continued at the Winter Meetings in Dallas earlier this month.
"I always had heard that Aramis would like to play here," Melvin said. "I've said that before, that's music to my ears to get a player of his talent and caliber wanting to come to Milwaukee.
"It appears Prince Fielder will not be coming back at this time," Melvin said. "We had to move forward to get someone of Aramis' ability."
Ramirez's deal was reportedly worth $36 million, and he will be paid $6 million in 2012; $10 million in 2013; and $16 million in 2014. There is a $4 million buyout on a mutual option for 2015. The Brewers deferred $6 million to the third year of the deal.
The addition of Ramirez and free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez gives Milwaukee a new left side of infield.
"Our goal was to try to improve that side," Melvin said. "Casey McGehee was good for us for a few years, and that was tough to move Casey, too. Pretty ironic how we got Casey on waivers because Ramirez is third baseman there and Casey loses his job here because Aramis is here."
The Brewers claimed McGehee off waivers from the Cubs, but on Monday dealt McGehee to the Pirates in exchange for right-handed reliever Jose Veras.
Last year, Milwaukee's third basemen ranked last in the NL in batting average, combining to hit .215 with 11 homers, 30 doubles and drive in 67 runs. The team added Jerry Hairston Jr., who started at third in the postseason.
Ramirez is hoping he will be playing in October next season. He won his first Silver Slugger award this year after hitting .306 with 26 homers and 93 RBIs in 149 games in 2011. It was his eighth season with at least 30 doubles and 25 homers.
The Cubs exercised their side of the $16 million option on Ramirez's contract but the third baseman declined to pick up his side. By doing so, the Cubs do not have to pay Ramirez the $2 million buyout. However, because Ramirez was a Type B free agent, the Cubs will receive a Draft pick in the supplemental round as compensation.
He has a lifetime .270 average and .503 slugging percentage at Miller Park, hitting 15 homers and 25 doubles there. Last season, he was 8-for-37 (.216) with one homer and six RBIs.
"[The Brewers] have a good young ballclub," Ramirez said. "Usually when you do that, you'll win for awhile."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.