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.
On Friday, it was reported that free agent Hanley Ramirez was under federal and state investigation, though no one knew for what, exactly. Michele McPhee of ABC News said, “Obviously I know absolutely nothing about sports or Hanley Ramirez’s stats, but what I do know is crime. And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man during a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.”
The suspect was reportedly transporting 435 grams of fentanyl and a “large amount” of crack cocaine. But it turns out that Ramirez’s name only got mentioned because the suspect was hoping to avoid arrest. Ramirez is not actually under investigation, Shelley Murphy and Evan Allen of the Boston Globe report.
The attorney of the suspect said that his client grew up in the Dominican Republic with Ramirez and used the former Red Sox DH’s name “to get the cops off his back, which didn’t work.” During the traffic stop, a trooper asked permission to open a brown cardboard box found in the rear cargo area of the suspect’s jeep. The suspect said the box contained books, shipped to him by Ramirez’s mother to deliver to Ramirez in Boston. The suspect FaceTimed Ramirez to back up his story, but Ramirez said he wasn’t aware that the suspect was on his way to visit. Ramirez gave permission to the trooper to open the box. He did, and found a gift bag with two kilograms of fentanyl. The suspect was arrested on drug trafficking charges.
Ramirez, 34, hit a disappointing .254/.313/.395 with six home runs and 29 RBI in 195 plate appearances for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment on May 25 and released on June 1. The Red Sox maintain that Ramirez’s release had nothing to do with anything off-the-field.