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Alexei Ramirez is most frequently mentioned in trade rumors involving the Pittsburgh Pirates, but the Detroit Tigers have suddenly become a player in the quest for his services.
First, let’s touch on the Pirates.
Steve Adams, from MLBTR, noted that the NL Central leaders are in need of a new shortstop. On July 18, he wrote that “Jordy Mercer took over as Pittsburgh's starting shortstop recently, but he's hitting just .188/.246/.188 over his past 18 games and doesn't have much of a track record.”
Since then, Mercer has hit .375 in 16 at-bats, but as Adams pointed out, the "track record" is not there, so the Pirates cannot be overly confident in his production.
Ramirez's contract will prove problematic, though.
He is signed through ’14 and ’15 and has a $10 million team option for the ’16 season with a $1 million buyout. The Pirates may be best served addressing their situation in right field (foreshadow alert) rather than looking to upgrade at short.
The Tigers are a completely different story. Their need arises from the uncertain future of Jhonny Peralta, who may be suspended because of his alleged involvement with the Biogenesis lab.
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote (Insider subscription required) that the “best fit” to replace Peralta “might be Alexei Ramirez, who is an above-average defender with a good line-drive bat and decent power.”
Bowden did go on to mention other candidates who are not as offensive in nature, but realistically, the Tigers could drive up the trade value for Ramirez.
There are two other things to consider here. Peralta is scheduled to hit free agency after this season, and the Tigers' top prospect at shortstop, Eugenio Suarez, is not projected by MLB.com to be ready until 2015.
In essence, Peralta leaves after this season, and Ramirez plays out his contract without the option year until Suarez is ready.
If Hahn can find a creative package that includes Ramirez and a reliever or two (not named Crain), the Tigers could prove to be the eventual landing place.
All things being equal, I say he ends up with the Cincinnati Reds. On the season, their No. 2 hitters have a combined average of .242 and four stolen bases. Ramirez, on the other hand, is hitting .298 with 15 steals batting second.