Report: White Sox turn down Cardinals’ proposal for Alexei Ramirez

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A “scouting source” told the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales that the White Sox rejected a proposal from the Cardinals that would have netted them top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez in return for shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

The report doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, given that the Cardinals would surely like to improve over Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso at shortstop. Still, it is surprising that they’d part with Martinez, a big-time talent who has posted a 2.05 ERA in 11 minor league starts this year. The 21-year-old right-hander hasn’t quite put it all together yet and he is an injury risk going forward, but there are only a handful of pitching prospects with greater upside. Martinez throws in the mid-90s, and both his curve and his changeups show plenty of promise.

Ramirez, on the other hand, doesn’t qualify as anything special at this point. He’s turning 32 in September. His lifetime OBP is .315. He’s never been an All-Star or won a Gold Glove. Here are his home run totals and OPS+s by year:

2008: 21 HR, 104 OPS+
2009: 15 HR, 86 OPS+
2010: 18 HR, 99 OPS+
2011: 15 HR, 94 OPS+
2012: 9 HR, 74 OPS+
2013: 1 HR, 79 OPS+

Not only is Ramirez arguably overpaid now, but he’s guaranteed $19.5 million for 2014-15, with a $10 million option or a $1 million buyout in 2016. Perhaps he’ll bounce back to a 90 OPS+ and be just about worth the cash, but that qualifies as the optimistic scenario. He has more downside than upside. No, the White Sox don’t really have anyone to replace him, but that isn’t reason alone to keep him. If the White Sox can really get a prospect of Martinez’s caliber for him, they shouldn’t look back.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.