Ramirez, who turns 37 in June, has been playing professional baseball since he was 16. At 19, he broke into the big leagues with the Pirates, beginning a long tour of the National League Central that continued to Chicago and then Milwaukee. At the end of last season, Ramirez was one of only 15 active players with 2,000 Major League games under his belt, and he ranks sixth all-time in home runs as a third baseman (365). He's made three NL All-Star teams, and he finished in the top 20 in NL MVP Award balloting five times.
Add it up, and it's an impressive legacy. Even if Ramirez never lands in Cooperstown, some of his statistics compare surprisingly well against members of the Hall of Fame.
"Sometimes you think about career numbers -- if he played another two or three years, he's got a chance to be a Hall of Famer," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
"He's had a great career," Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said. "He's a quiet pro. He doesn't look for publicity. I think he just likes to play."
Ramirez will earn $14 million this season, his fourth with the Brewers. Since a terrific debut with Milwaukee in 2012, when he batted .300 with 27 home runs, 105 RBIs and a NL-leading 50 doubles, Ramirez has been hobbled by knee and hamstring issues. He spent the winter working hard to condition his legs, which limited him to 133 games, 15 home runs and 66 RBIs in 2014.
Those growing physical challenges played a part in his decision, Ramirez said. So were family considerations for the father of three children, aged 11, 6 and 2.
"When I was leaving this year, I promised my daughter this is the last time I leave her," Ramirez said. "So that's it. I'm not playing anymore."
What will his post-playing career bring? Ramirez said he hasn't decided, and he pointed out with a laugh that he hasn't retired just yet. Roenicke has suggested that Ramirez will remain the Brewers' cleanup hitter in 2015.
"I've played for a long time, and sometimes it's just time to do something else," Ramirez said. "I think I achieved my goals. The only thing I'm missing is playing in a World Series. Other than that, I think I've done pretty good."