The Tampa Bay Rays today signed free agent shortstop Alexei Ramirez to a major league contract. He is expected to join the club for tonight's game at Yankee Stadium, wearing No. 24.
Ramirez, who turns 35 in two weeks (Sept. 22), is a veteran of nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2008-15) and San Diego Padres (2016). He finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 behind Evan Longoria, has received two American League Silver Slugger Awards for shortstop (2010, 2014) and was named an American League All-Star in 2014. Since his rookie season of 2008, he leads the majors with 1,212 games played at shortstop, followed by Erick Aybar (1,198) and Elvis Andrus (1,180). He is one of three players in White Sox history with at least 100 home runs (109) and 100 stolen bases (135), along with Ray Durham and Minnie Minoso.
Born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Ramirez will become the ninth Cuban-born player in Rays history but only the third born outside Havana, joining Danys Baez (Pinar del Rio) and Rolando Arrojo (Santa Clara). Among Cuban-born players to reach the majors, he ranks 10th all-time with 114 home runs and seventh all-time with 141 stolen bases-and is one of only four with 100 homers and 100 steals, along with Minoso, Jose Cardenal and Jose Canseco.
Prior to signing with the White Sox, he spent seven seasons (2001-07) with Pinar del Rio in the Cuban League, and was named a Cuban League All-Star in each of his last four seasons there. He helped Cuba win the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and finish second in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. This season with San Diego, Ramirez batted .240 (101-for-421) with 19 doubles, five home runs, 41 RBI and six stolen bases. He played in 128 games including 109 starts (105-SS, 3-RF, 1-DH). He batted .299 (35-for-117) against left-handed pitching, and .266 (61-for-229) away from Petco Park. Ramirez was released by the Padres on Sept. 6.