Alexei excited to help lead White Sox resurgence

Once thought of as a prime trade candidate, shortstop happy to stay in Chicago

Alexei excited to help lead White Sox resurgence

CHICAGO -- What a difference a few months make when examining the current offseason for Alexei Ramirez.

Back in October, the veteran White Sox shortstop looked to have become a prime trade candidate. Ramirez, 33, was coming off of his first All-Star appearance and earned his second Silver Slugger Award. With one year remaining on his contract at $10 million and a $10 million club option with a $1 million buyout for 2016, Ramirez stood as a somewhat cost-effective addition for a contending team and quite possibly the top realistic trade chip to foster great overall improvement for the White Sox.

Ramirez seemingly became even more expendable with Tim Anderson, the No. 76 prospect overall per MLB.com, maybe a couple of years away at shortstop. Marcus Semien, Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez all were available to take the spot in '15.

But a funny thing happened during the pursuit of Ramirez: General manager Rick Hahn turned the White Sox into playoff contenders through eight impact moves, with Semien leaving instead as part of the Jeff Samardzija trade with Oakland. Ramirez went from moving toward the exit to returning as a valuable clubhouse presence and on-field stalwart in his eighth season with the White Sox, leaving him as the second-longest tenured White Sox player to John Danks.

This topsy-turvy offseason didn't seem to affect the even-keeled shortstop, although he wasn't oblivious to trade talk.

"It was OK for me," Ramirez told MLB.com through translator and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Hector Molina. "I was motivated because there were four to five teams interested in me.

"I was getting ready and prepared for what was coming. But it doesn't bother me -- something that's out of my control. It's part of the business, but I was ready for it."

When asked if Ramirez knew of those four or five interested teams through direct talks with the White Sox, he smiled and said the information came from his friends and reading reports on the Internet.

"So I called my agent," Ramirez said. "And he said, 'Don't worry about that. There's nothing true about that. Just keep on doing what you're doing.'"

What Ramirez did in '14 was hit .273 with 15 homers, 74 RBIs, 35 doubles and 21 stolen bases. Ramirez stands as one of the AL's more polished defensive shortstops and one of the better overall up-the-middle talents in the game, worth a 3.0 bWAR last season.

He's thrilled to have stayed in Chicago, hoping to start and finish his career with the same team. For now, Ramirez plans to play a vital role in an upcoming White Sox resurgence.

"I'm going to do my best to be an example. I'm going to try to motivate," Ramirez said. "I'm going to get to the ballpark early. I'm going to be the last one leaving. I'm going to talk to them about baseball. If I can do that, this is the same thing that Jose Contreras did for me when I came here."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.