White Sox decline 2016 option on Ramirez

Club purchases Triple-A contract of left-hander Phillips

White Sox decline 2016 option on Ramirez

CHICAGO -- The White Sox have declined the 2016 option at $10 million on the contract of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, opting instead to exercise a $1 million buyout. Ramirez becomes a free agent.

Ramirez, 34, still could return to the White Sox as a free agent and has expressed a strong desire to stay with the only team he has known since coming from Cuba prior to the 2008 regular season. Ramirez made his first Opening Day start as a center fielder, before moving to second base and settling in at shortstop.

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Ramirez's 2015 season featured a subpar showing overall. He batted .249 with 33 doubles, 10 home runs, 62 RBIs, 54 runs scored and 17 stolen bases over 154 games. Ramirez made 150-plus starts at shortstop for the sixth straight season.

But much of Ramirez's struggles last year came during the first half, when he hit .224 with a .249 on-base percentage. Those numbers jumped to .277 and .325 in the second half.

For his eight-year career, Ramirez has a .273 average with 227 doubles, 109 homers, 542 RBIs, 563 runs scored and 135 stolen bases. He was an American League All-Star in 2014 and is one of four players in White Sox history to win multiple Silver Slugger Awards (2010, '14), joining Frank Thomas (four), Carlton Fisk (three) and Magglio Ordonez (two).

If Ramirez's tenure with the White Sox comes to a close, Tyler Saladino could move into the shortstop role for the 2016 season. Saladino primarily played third base in '15 but his natural position is shortstop.

Tim Anderson, the club's top-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, is not considered Major League ready for the start of the '16 season.

• The White Sox also purchased the contract of left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips from Triple-A Charlotte. Phillips, 29, spent the entire 2015 season with Charlotte, going 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA, 12 saves, 64 strikeouts and a .232 opponents average over 46 relief appearances. His 12 saves led the Knights and tied for the second-most in the White Sox system. Phillips averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, limited lefties to a .213 average and held opponents to a .183 average with runners in scoring position.

Phillips was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on Dec. 9, 2014. He originally was selected by Texas in the 23rd round of the 2004 Draft.

Following the move, the White Sox 40-man roster is at 34.

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