According to the AP, The Florida Marlins and shortstop Hanley Ramirez agreed on a contract extension for six years and $70 million. Despite the history with the Marlins of dumping high-value players or trading them, they have decided to put an investment with one of their core players -- in fact, he may be one of the top three in the game.
Many, yes -- including myself, have been very critical of the Florida organization with their high turnover of players and taking the revenues they receive to not reinvest in their team. They scout well and know how to pick young talent, but it seems that the fan base down there are a little disillusioned with the franchise.
Well, let's hope this is a sign of change down there.
An official announcement is expected to come as early as next week, according to Florida media reports.
The Marlins have a $21 million payroll this season. Ramirez's extension is the biggest contract in franchise history.
"We have something, but we're working out the details," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com on Friday. "We'll have good news very soon."
When reporters approached Ramirez before Saturday's game against Washington, he smiled, laughed and waved.
"No comment, no comment," he said.
Ramirez, whom the Marlins obtained in the trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox, is earning $439,000 this season.
Ramirez would have been eligible for arbitration after this season and would likely have earned a significant pay raise. He was National League Rookie of the Year in 2006 and hit .332 last season with 52 stolen bases and 212 hits last season -- second only to NL MVP runner-up Matt Holliday.
As of Saturday morning, he was hitting .336 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 35 games.
The Marlins, known as much for dealing away star players as they are for a pair of World Series championships, currently lead the National League East. The team is off to its best start in franchise history (21-14) despite its meager payroll. In fact, the Marlins' $22 million payroll is by far the smallest in the major leagues.
"As we get closer to the stadium, those things will change," owner Jeffrey Loria said in March. The Marlins plan to build a new stadium on the site of the Orange Bowl in Miami's Little Havana district and locking up Ramirez long-term would give the team a bankable star with whom to open the new stadium in 2011 if all goes according to plan.
If there's anything the fans of the Marlins should deserve, it's having Hanley in uniform hopefully for years to come.