The Brewers, bracing for the possible loss of free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder, have reached agreement on a three-year contract with free-agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, according to his agent.
The deal, which is pending a physical, is worth $36 million and may include deferrals, sources said. Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago was the first to report the agreement.
The 33-year-old Ramirez played 149 games for the NL Central rival Chicago Cubs last year, batting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 RBI. Ramirez played the past eight-plus seasons with the Cubs after he was traded by Pittsburgh to Chicago in the middle of the 2003 season.
Agent Paul Kinzer said Ramirez expects the Brewers to be a contender next season, a critical factor in his decision.
”That was one of his criteria,” Kinzer said. ”There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list.”
Late on Monday, the Brewers traded third baseman Casey McGehee to Pittsburgh for right-handed reliever Jose Veras, who went 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA and one save in a career-high 79 appearances last season.
The Rangers, Mariners and Cubs are among the teams interested in Fielder, who now seems virtually certain to leave Milwaukee.
The Brewers also are awaiting word on a possible 50-game suspension for left fielder Ryan Braun for a violation of baseball’s steroid policy. Major League Baseball is 12-0 in defending drug suspensions in arbitration.
But they had been pursuing offensive help even before receiving the news on Braun. The team recently made an offer to free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but ended up signing shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year contract with a vesting option.
”Alex brings to our ballclub a veteran presence who has experienced winning in the postseason,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said in a statement. ”He is a plus defender who will be a welcome addition to our infield.”
The 34-year-old Gonzalez batted .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI in 149 games with Atlanta last season.
He made 146 starts at shortstop and had a .981 fielding percentage, which ranked third in the NL and fifth in the major leagues at his position.
Gonzalez is expected to replace last year’s regular shortstop, Yuniesky Betancourt, who is a free agent.
The Brewers also announced that they signed catcher George Kottaras to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration, and that catcher Mike Rivera and first baseman Travis Ishikawa have agreed to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.