Dodgers swing for fences, land Hanley Ramirez from Marlins

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The Dodgers are flush with cash and aren’t afraid to use it. As first reported by Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, they acquired third baseman Hanley Ramirez and left-hander Randy Choate from the Marlins late Tuesday night in return for right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.

It’s a modest price to play for a guy who ranked as one of the game’s top three properties a couple of years back. Ramirez was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2006, and he received MVP votes each of the following three years, finishing in second place in 2009 at the still tender age of 25.

Ramirez has gone downhill since. After a modestly disappointing 2010 in which he hit .300/.378/.475, he fell off to .243/.333/.379 in 92 games in 2011. This year, he’s hit .246/.322/.428 with 14 homers and 48 RBI through 93 games.

The Dodgers will hope the trade is just the kick in the pants that Ramirez needs. His attitude deteriorated with his performance in Miami, and his occasional lack of hustle was frustrating. A new start might do wonders for him. At 28, it’s hardly too late for him to return to playing like a superstar.

And Ramirez is getting paid like a star, which is why the Dodgers didn’t have to part with all that much talent to get him. He’ll make $15.5 million next year and $16 million in 2014 before becoming a free agent. With that kind of salary, he’ll be counted on to produce a bunch of runs while likely batting fifth behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the order.

The Dodgers will have the option of playing Ramirez either third base or shortstop. Third base makes sense as his long-term position in Los Angeles, but since Dee Gordon has been a big disappointment at shortstop this year and is injured besides, it would make sense to return Hanley to his old position for the short term.

Along with Ramirez, the Dodgers are getting a useful specialist in Choate. Usually asked to face just one or two lefties at a time, the 36-year-old southpaw had a 2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings for the Marlins this year. Left-handers were hitting .150 in 60 at-bats against him. Last year, they hit .145 in 69 at-bats.

While it wasn’t the huge return their fans would have preferred, the Marlins got a solid starter in here in Eovaldi. The polished 22-year-old was 1-6 for the Dodgers this season, but that was mostly due to poor run support. He had a 4.15 ERA, and he allowed three runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts. He could slide right into Miami’s rotation, and his presence may make it easier for the team to part with Josh Johnson next.

McGough, 22, had a 3.99 ERA and a 48/26 K/BB ratio in 47 1/3 innings out of the pen for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga this season. He was the Dodgers’ fifth-round pick last year.

Nationals Acquire Ryan Raburn From White Sox

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The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.

Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.

The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.