Milwaukee Brewers Sign Third Baseman Ramirez as Braun’s Suspension Looms

The Milwaukee Brewers signed free- agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez to a three-year contract as the defending National League Central champions face the possibility of opening the 2012 season without their two top hitters from last year.

Ramirez, 33, agreed to a three-year deal with the Major League Baseball team, Brewers spokesman Tyler Barnes said in an e-mail. Ramirez played with the division-rival Chicago Cubs last season, hitting .306 with 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in.

The deal is worth $36 million, reported. Barnes, who declined to provide financial details, said it included a mutual option for a fourth year.

The signing comes less than a week after it was disclosed that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, who led the team in runs, hits and stolen bases last season, tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during the playoffs. The 2011 NL Most Valuable Player, Braun could face a 50-game suspension for the failed test, and Prince Fielder, who led the team in home runs and runs batted in last season, is currently a free agent.

Braun is contesting the results of the drug test.

The Brewers were 96-66 last season, and won their first division title. The team beat the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series.

In a 14-year career with the Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, Ramirez has hit .284 with 315 home runs and 1,122 runs batted in. An All-Star in 2005 and 2008, Ramirez has hit .194 in 18 postseason games.

The team also signed free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal earlier this week. Gonzalez, 34, batted .241 with 15 home runs and 56 RBI with the Atlanta Braves last season.

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