The MLB trade deadline is always full of surprises. Contending teams will deal for that player to help put themselves over the hump, and selling teams tend to trade their players and go into a rebuilding mode. Both good and bad trades are made, and sometimes it can take years to learn the result of a trade.
Yet, this morning’s Hanley Ramirez trade can be determined right now, as it is clear the Miami Marlins sold low on their once All Star shortstop.
Opening my twitter feed this morning, I was shocked to learn what the Los Angeles Dodgers traded away for Ramirez. The Dodgers sent over starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and minor leaguer Scott McGough. In return, Miami dealt Ramirez, along with middle reliever Randy Choate.
Eovaldi barely made Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects to begin 2012, closing in at number 96. Eovaldi made his debut in 2011, and in 16 career starts, he has walked 3.96 per nine innings while striking out just 5.74 in the same span.
Scott McGough has had some success in the minors. The right-hander eclipsed a 2.21 ERA last with the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate, the Great Lakes Looms. Yet, McGough’s age is slowly beginning to creep up on him, as the pitcher will turn 23 this October and still has yet to rise above Advanced Single-A.
Looking at the pieces the Dodgers received in the trade, Hanley Ramirez has struggled since the beginning of 2011 mainly due to injuries. Early last season, Ramirez played through a bad back, which he claimed caused him trouble in some of the simplest everyday tasks, such as tying shoes. He was put on the disabled list in late May. Later in early August, Ramirez injured his shoulder diving for a ball against the Mets. He was promptly shut down for the season and underwent surgery during the winter.
In 2012, he has struggled at the plate, hitting just 14 home runs while notching a poor wOBA (weighted on-base average) of .329, and totaling a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 1.4. Meanwhile, reliever Randy Choate has been a reliable part of Miami’s bullpen for the past two years, recording ERA’s of 1.82 and 2.49 in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Choate will likely continue to be a critical part of the bullpen in Los Angeles.
Although Hanley has struggled in 2012, and injuries derailed his 2011 season, the shortstop is not long removed from his All Star days through 2010, when he was considered by many to be one of the top five players in the game. In those years (2006-2010) Hanley recorded a total of 29.8 WAR. To put that into perspective, a player who records around 60.0 WAR during their career is typically inducted into the Hall of Fame.
And the best part? Hanley recorded these numbers as a shortstop, a position where hitting for contact and power is a rarity. Although Hanley played third base so far in 2012, he will return to shortstop with the Dodgers, due to Juan Uribe occupying third. Throughout those five years, the runner-up in WAR at shortstop was Derek Jeter, who was worth a total of 23.9, nearly six wins below Hanley.
The big question remains why would the Marlins trade a shortstop who is just a year and a half removed from five All Star seasons at one of the most desired positions in baseball?
The only other reason one can think of is an attitude problem and a feud between the Marlins’ management. In 2009, then teammate Dan Uggla called Ramirez out for not playing hard. Later, in 2010, then Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez pulled Hanley for not hustling hard after making an error. Hanley later lashed back at Gonzalez post-game in an interview with the media. This past offseason, and through spring training, Ramirez was noted as “upset” with being forced to move to third after Miami courted and signed Jose Reyes.
It is understandable that a team may deal a player who is currently unhappy with the organization he plays for. One can’t blame Marlins general manager Mike Hill for not wanting a player who doesn’t want to play for him.
Yet, the Marlins did not handle this process well. They lost a high amount of leverage when details leaked saying they were inclined to trade the shortstop. They also lost leverage by dealing him before the deadline, as it is very possible they could have received a lot more back in a deal if they waited until the final hours.
Miami failed to understand that they could have gotten much better pieces in return for their former star shortstop. After all, Ramirez is still just 28-years-old, and I would not be surprised at all if he puts up very productive numbers in his career with Los Angeles.