Padres release Alexei Ramirez

September 4, 2016

The Padres requested unconditional release waivers on Alexei Ramirez on Sunday, ending a short tenure for the shortstop.

Ramirez signed a one-year, $4 million deal in January. The Padres hoped the one-time All-Star would solve their long-running weakness at shortstop, if only for a season. But the 34-year-old continued to decline this season, hitting just .240 with five home runs in 128 games. According to FanGraphs, he ranked last among qualifying position players with minus-2.0 wins above replacement.

Had Ramirez produced at a league-average rate, he still would have become a mismatching part amid the Padres’ rebuild. The veteran had ceded playing time to youngsters such as Luis Sardinas in the second half and recently made three starts in right field, including in Saturday’s loss at Dodger Stadium.

When the Padres acquired Sardinas last month, the Union-Tribune reported that the club was contemplating a release for Ramirez.

Ramirez is making $3 million this season. His deal included a $4 million mutual option for 2017. The option comes with a $1 million buyout, which the Padres will pay.

Before they signed Ramirez, the Padres also considered Ian Desmond, a 30-year-old who would have required a larger contract as well as the loss of a first-round draft pick. With shortstops not in high demand, Desmond wound up signing a one-year, $8 million deal to play center field for the Texas Rangers. He has thrived with the position switch, making the American League All-Star team and compiling 4.0 WAR.

The Padres will continue auditioning Sardinas, 23, though the end of the season. In their search for shortstop help, they also are expected to look outside the organization this winter.