Now that Cleveland has traded Lindor and Carrasco, might they be receptive to an offer for their star third baseman, Jose Ramirez?
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It finally happened. After months of speculation, Cleveland has traded Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco – to the Mets for a package of players. This ends the speculation that the Blue Jays might be invested in the “Lindor sweepstakes”. But as the old saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. If Cleveland is still looking to cut payroll, and have accepted the idea of a partial rebuild, might star third basebam Jose Ramirez be on the block … or might Cleveland at least be willing to listen?
There is a lot to like about Ramirez. First, he is an elite talent. From 2017-20, his 21.3 fWAR was second only to Anthony Rendon among MLB third basemen. Higher than Alex Bregman, Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman. And Jose’s 3.4 fWAR in the abbreviated 2020 season was only the highest of any player in MLB. Second, unlike many batting behemoths at third, Jose actually knows what his glove is for. His +9 outs above average since 2017 is tied for 7th best among MLB third baseman. Not quite Matt Chapman level, but well above average. And finally, he is cheap – under team control for the next three years (including options) for a very reasonable $33 million.
So why would Cleveland consider trading such a paragon? First, because after the Lindor and Carrasco trades, Ramirez’s $9m salary in 2021 is the highest on the team. Second, because with their recent trades of Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer (and Lindor and Carrasco) plus their non-tender of Brad Hand, it is entirely possible that Cleveland are looking to retool. And finally, they might well feel that filling multiple holes will generate more value than one star player.
So what would it take to trade for him?
Start with a replacement at third base. Cleveland would need a high prospect, close to MLB ready, with enough upside to potentially become a Ramirez replacement. Someone like Jordan Groshans. Second, Cleveland needs a good young outfielder – someone cheap, MLB-ready, with upside, and with multiple years of team control. Like Lourdes Gurriel Jr. And finally, they could use a young + cheap + MLB-ready starting pitcher to replace Carlos Carrasco. The Blue Jays have several – Thornton / Kay / Hatch, or possibly even Julian Merryweather (who the Jays acquired from Cleveland in the first place).
There are other ways to skin this cat. The Blue Jays could offer Austin Martin (with his potential at centre field) + Alejandro Kirk (in whom Cleveland are said to have been interested for some time). Either way, a player of Ramirez’s talent will not come cheap.
So why would the Blue Jays do it? A player like Groshans could well become the next Fernando Tatis Jr. – a player so good that “how did they ever trade him?” becomes a meme. Gurriel Jr. also has high upside. But for a Jays team that hopes to be serious contenders, possibly as early as 2021, three prime years of one of the best third basemen in baseball would be a dream come true. Imagine an infield of Vladdy – Cavan – Bo – Jose, with Rowdy at DH/1B. And if you *really* want to dream, imagine that the Jays sign Michael Brantley to replace Lourdes, and sign one of George Springer or J.T. Realmuto as their “big dollar” signing. Not a lot of holes in *that* batting order!
The bottom line
There is an old saying that you have to give to get. The prospect cost of trading for a player like Jose Ramirez would hurt. But if Jose could be one of the final pieces of a championship team, it might be a good hurt.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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A Jays fan since pre-Series, Jim’s biggest baseball regret is that he did not play hooky with his buddies on 7 Apr 77. But hearing “Fanfare For The Common Man” played from a rooftop on 24 Oct 92 helped him atone.