Hanley Ramirez Trade Rumors: 7 Reasons Miami Marlins Star Isn't Going Anywhere
The mere implication is nonsense. It offends on logical and logistical bases. To suggest that Ramirez is headed out of town is to accuse the Marlins again of self-sabotage and/or smokescreen spending, a charge from which they fairly acquitted themselves by signing free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell.
Those statements, though, are just conclusions. It's easy to decry rumors and to say that a trade is not in the works. Conclusions don't prove those postulates. Here are seven arguments that do.
Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes have complementary skills across the board. They're two of the most well-tooled players in the game, but they each emphasize different elements. Reyes is all about getting on base, though he has useful power. Ramirez is a slugger at heart, though he can run and isn't averse to a walk.
Defensively, Ramirez has a spit-fire arm and quick-twitch movements that work. Reyes is smoother, using his superior pure speed and lateral quickness and his soft hands to get to and field balls other shortstops cannot.
They're building blocks. They're interlocking parts. The Marlins have made a wise step toward contention by investing in both, and have the best possible versions of each if they keep them side-by-side.
Timing Is Everything
If there has ever been a terrible time for the Marlins to trade Hanley Ramirez, this is it. Ramirez had a woeful 2011, marred by injuries, declining speed and defense and a lack of production at the plate. He's at the utter nadir of his value.
A trade right now might net Miami a pair of top prospects, but then, it might not, and even that is a small return for such a dynamic talent.
Simultaneously, the team must weigh the public image impact of every move they make between now and Opening Day. Their premise has been that when they opened the new park, they would earnestly and aggressively attempt to contend in good faith.
They took a huge step toward gaining consumer confidence in that assertion when they signed Jose Reyes, and they would more or less throw that goodwill away by dealing Ramirez.
Hanley Has No Leverage
Hanley Ramirez is under contract through the 2014 season. The Miami Marlins have him tied up at a very friendly $15.5 million in annual salary for the next three years. They have little reason to trade their star infielder, and however Ramirez may agitate for a deal, Larry Beinfest has no good incentive to buckle to that pressure.
This is an epidemic in sports lately, it seems. From Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul to Michael Young, many athletes seem to think they can simply boss their teams around, demanding or otherwise pushing for trades. Few teams coddle these whiners, but those who do only hurt themselves.
Chemistry is a crummy reason to trade a talented player. Contracts give teams leverage, and the Marlins should use theirs to tell Ramirez to shut up and do his job.
The Pujols Gambit
Right now, the Marlins are neck-deep in a negotiation (or a bidding war, or an all-out brawl, depending upon one's reading) to sign Albert Pujols to play first base and complement Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. If they succeed in acquiring Pujols, they vault into immediate contention for the NL East crown, and even the NL pennant, in 2012.
It's clear they want to make that happen. They would not have come this far otherwise. The gambit only works, though, if it is a part of a full commitment to scoring more runs than any senior-circuit team has since 2009 or so.
The Marlins' pitching is merely average, maybe worse, and if they don't have Reyes, Ramirez AND Pujols to anchor the lineup then they're not going to be substantially better than the Washington Nationals, let alone the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves.
Jose Reyes Insurance
Jose Reyes is one of the most thrilling, electrifying players in MLB. He has speed, power, contact skills and athleticism at shortstop. Few players are more fun to watch.
However, that's when Reyes plays. He has taken the field for only 295 of the Mets' games over the past three years. He's the clear choice at shortstop when he's available, but he's not available often enough to be a sure thing.
That uncertainty, coupled with the Marlins' lack of infield depth, makes trading Hanley Ramirez a very risky proposition. Ramirez may now be a better fit at third base, but he sure makes a fine fill-in if and when Reyes goes down for a month and the Marlins need to maintain production at shortstop.
A Thin Market
The New York Yankees have some marquee prospects atop their farm system in Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos. The wisest course might be to keep them and develop a deep organization ready to adapt as their stars age, but the Yankees are known for their reticence to rely on youth.
Hanley Ramirez would normally be just the sort of player for whom the Yankees would surrender their top prospects, but he's not even on their radar. That's because Derek Jeter is not going anywhere and because the Yankees don't have room for Ramirez elsewhere on their infield.
It's a variation on the same story everywhere the Marlins might want to send Ramirez. The Detroit Tigers would have interest, but lack the prospect punch to make a realistic deal. The Boston Red Sox are a bit thin in their farm system after last winter's Adrian Gonzalez trade. The Kansas City Royals might be the best fit, but seem unwilling to part with their top young talents just to go for broke in 2012.
The Marlins might trade Ramirez if the right offer comes, but given what we know about the market right now, it's hard to see that happening.
Matt Dominguez Can Not Hit
Comfortably atop the Marlins' positional farm system hierarchy, Matt Dominguez seems to be waiting his turn in the big leagues. He's a sensational defensive third baseman, and that's the bulk of the basis for his prospect status.
All other bases are fading quickly. Dominguez makes it more and more clear each season that his bat will never live up to expectations. That means that, however they might wish he would, the Marlins simply can not count on Dominguez to blossom into even a fringe regular.
If Dominguez is not the answer at third base, that position is somewhat gaping if Miami trades Ramirez. Absent sufficient evidence of improvement, which they certainly can't get right now, the Marlins need to count Dominguez as an insurance policy and possible bench player and focus on making Ramirez the best third baseman he can be.
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