The Los Angeles Dodgers made a big splash early Wednesday morning by acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
The acquisition of Ramirez and the $38 million owed to him over the next two-and-a-half seasons, the signing of Cuban defector Yasiel Puig to a $42 million contract earlier this month, the $85 million extension given to Andre Ethier in June and the $2 billion purchase of the team are clear signs that money is no object to the new Dodgers ownership group.
The Dodgers may turn their sights to a starting pitcher now that their offense has been upgraded at the cost of their fifth starter and a pitching prospect.
Given the aggressive moves they have made since being sold three months ago, it wouldn't be a shock to see them make another splash before the trading deadline ends next Tuesday, with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster of the Cubs two possible targets.
As for the acquisition of Ramirez, the Dodgers are betting on his tools, because the production has dropped off dramatically since he won the batting title in 2009.
Ramirez had a solid season in 2010, but has hit just .245/.328/.405 over the past two seasons. He's also a below-average defensive player at shortstop—which necessitated a move to the hot corner this season, where he's been just as bad with the glove.
Ramirez also publicly criticized and feuded with former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez in 2010, which is likely part of the reason the team fired Gonzalez that season.
He's been out of the lineup recently with an infection that was caused by him punching a fan, then forgetting to take medication to prevent the infection.
So if Ramirez is expensive, not producing offensively, a disaster on defense and a potential cancer in the clubhouse, why should Giants fans feel a sense of dread after this deal was made?
Assuming that the Dodgers return Ramirez to shortstop, even at his worst, he's a massive upgrade on the .604 OPS the Dodgers have received from the position so far this season.
There's also the chance that the last two seasons are the outlier on his resume, and that his true talent level is closer to the .313/.385/.521 line he amassed through 2010.
There are reasons to believe that Ramirez will rediscover the form he showed up until last season. For one, he's only 28 years old. Secondly, his line-drive rate is right in line with his career average, yet his BABIP is only .271 compared to .333 for his career, which suggests that he has been unlucky this season.
Lastly, there are those tools. Ramirez has lost some speed and power, but he does have 14 steals and a .183 isolated slugging percentage this season, showing that the tools still exist, even if they aren't quite what they once were.
There's no question the Dodgers are making an expensive gamble here. However, Ramirez's ability to square up the baseball with authority is still there, even if it's been dormant for most of the last two seasons.
For the San Francisco Giants, the stakes in the National League West just got higher. If Ramirez even approaches his old form, the three-four-five of Kemp, Ethier and Ramirez can be enough to propel the Dodgers over the top.
The new one-game playoff between the two wild cards has enhanced the value of winning the division this season. The acquisition of Ramirez by the Dodgers should force the Giants into action at the trading deadline.
If the Giants fall short in the division but win a wild-card spot, that will only ensure one postseason game. Winning the division should be the priority, and to do so, the Giants need to keep up with the new rich kids on the block.
The acquisition of Ramirez shows the Dodgers are quickly becoming the Yankees of the West Coast. There's a new game in town in the National League West, and the Dodgers are willing to make expensive gambles to overtake the Giants.
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