Aramis Ramirez Earned His Cubs’ Contract

Aramis Ramirez had worn out his welcome in Chicago. Injury-filled seasons in 2009 and 2010 left fans restless with the aging third baseman.

That 2011 began with Ramirez hitting just two home runs over the first two months of the season didn’t help. While his slash line of .288/.351/.396 wasn’t terrible, it lacked the power component the Cubs seemed to desperately need over those first cold months.

No matter what Ramirez did over the remainder of the season — only becoming one of the top third basemen at the plate by the trading deadline — his time was done. His final .306/.361/.510 was like a mirage to Cubs fans.

As a result of his play in the final three years of the contract, years that were marred by injuries and a body that is breaking down, the entire Ramirez experiment was deemed a failure.

But it wasn’t.

When Aramis Ramirez signed his five-year, $75 million contract before the 2007 season, there was no doubt that he was one of the premier third basemen in the National League. He was consistent at the plate, and his glove wasn’t yet the liability it is now seen as.

He wasn’t going to win Gold Gloves, but the Cubs didn’t need him to. They needed him to bash, and bash he did, hitting 119 home runs over the five years of the contract, more than enough to make his entire contract worth it.

It is hard to believe, but Aramis Ramirez out performed his contract with the Cubs, and he doesn’t need to do much to accomplish the same feat in Milwaukee over the next three seasons, even if fans may not believe it when Aramis’ patented grimaces become too much for them to bear.

So how do we figure that Aramis fulfilled his side of the Cubs contract?

According to FanGraphs.com, the open market value of a win in the 2007 season was $4.1 million. While the current rate is somewhere around $5 million, in the years 2002 – 2008, the value increased by about 10 percent per year.

Therefore, we can discount Ramirez’ contract back to year 0 (2007) by 10 percent per season to get his contract value in terms of the wins expected from Aramis before he signed the contract.

The Cubs essentially signed Aramis for a little less that $56 million in terms of “value” back in 2007. If you divide that by the $4.1 million per win, Ramirez was on the hook to deliver about 13.5 wins over the life of the deal.

Ramirez did better. Helped by a strong performance in the first few years of the contract, Ramirez delivered a value of 14 wins measured in 2007 value. (All WAR values are taken from FanGraphs and discounted by 10 percent back to the 2007 year).

Over the first two years of the deal, Ramirez more than doubled what was expected of him. It is probably not a coincidence that the Cubs made the playoffs in each of those seasons.

Even in 2011, with Ramirez making $14.6 million, Ramirez was only expected to deliver 2.43 Wins in 2007 terms. Ramirez delivered 2.46 Wins (Actual 3.6), even though those wins probably came when Cubs fans had long given up hope.

If Ramirez had chosen to remain with the club for another season, he could have declined even more and still lived up to the promise in terms of wins delivered to the club. In 2007 terms, Ramirez would have only been expected to give the Cubs two wins in 2012, or an actual value of 3.2 WAR.

It isn’t hard to imagine Ramirez being able to put the kind of numbers up that would have made that a steal in 2007.

Under the same logic, the Brewers got a steal signing Aramis for three years and $36 million. That the contract is backloaded, according to the numbers reported by Ken Rosenthal, makes it an even better deal.

By now, wins are worth about $5 million dollars on the open market. If we discount Ramirez’ contract by 10 percent again (assuming that wins continue to grow in value at about the historical rate), he will be paid $28.3 million in 2012 terms over the course of his deal.

That equates to about 5.7 wins… total. If Aramis does start with a year of 3.2 WAR as he would have been expected to produce for the Cubs, he should have no problem reaching an 2012 value of 5.7 by the end of 2014.

And if Ramirez is forced to move off of third base (although current prospect Mat Gamel is about as much of a butcher at that position as Ryan Braun was, or Ramirez is) he will easily eclipse it as his defense will weigh less on his total performance.

While Cubs fans may not want to admit it now, Ramirez lived up to his deal, and now the Brewers made a great deal in grabbing his production.
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Benjamin Miraski saw his first Cubs game at Wrigley Field from the left-field bleachers at the age of six. He learned a few new words that day; he tries not to use them. He runs MRISports.com, a college football and basketball site that has its own computer rankings system, and is starting brockforbroglio.mrisports.com, a Chicago Cubs blog.

His work and research will add a sabermetric view to the CCO, with recurring contributions focusing on the statistical side of the game.

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

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