I have to hand it to my boss. He apparently keeps the hours of an insomniac. Eric Schmidt broke the Hanley Ramirez story on our network before most people were done dreaming about winning the lottery. Leave it to the boss to show the rest of us how it was done. I had planned on breaking the story to you, but instead I will simply provide some analysis of this transaction.
Quite simply, I’m still scratching my head and I found out about it two hours ago. With the new rules in the collective bargaining agreement, there will be a ton of activity. We’ve already seen the kind of activity we expect on the 31st and that date is a little less than a week away. Goodness knows what’s going to happen on that day when teams are really up against it. In every trade so far I could honestly see the thinking from both sides and that thinking made sense. I’m struggling to find it here.
The Dodgers’ end makes perfect sense. They get a player who can handle short until Dee Gordon returns and then easily slide over to third base (where they have a hole you could drive a Hummer through). Furthermore, they almost gave away nothing of value. They can still go out and get Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, or even both. Ramirez isn’t the dynamic player that he was in 2010 and prior, but he has bounced back some. He has 14 home runs and he is still a threat on the base paths.
Choate is your typical lefty specialist. He has a sparkling 2.49 ERA in 44 games this season. Of course, as a lefty specialist he has only 25 innings on the season, but these numbers aren’t an aberration for him. He had a 1.82 ERA for the Marlins in 2011 and has some big game experience as well as a member of the Rays, Dbacks, and Yankees. His addition may not be sexy, but it is the subtle addition that playoff teams make.
The Marlins get back Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. When I read that this morning my initial response was, “And?” This isn’t to demean Nathan Eovaldi, He’s a decent enough prospect as he is 22 and has parts of two big league seasons under his belt. However, no one I know projects him as a top end starter. So, the Marlins just traded Hanley Ramirez and a solid lefty specialist for a potential 3/4 starter and a prospect that didn’t even rate in the Dodgers top 20.
This is when the next piece of news hits a little close to home for most Marlins fans. As a part of the deal, the Marlins will not be sending any cash the Dodgers way. In other words, the Marlins agreed to take back a lot less in terms of prospects in exchange for the ability to wash their hands of Ramirez’s contract. Choate is signed through the end of the season at 1.25 million. Given that we are close to the two thirds point in the season, that means that a little over 400K is left on that contract. Not even the Marlins are that cheap.
However, Ramirez signed a six year, 70 million dollar deal back in 2009. That means that the Dodgers are now on the hook for the remaining two seasons and two months. The average value of the contract comes out to close to 12 million per season, but as you might expect, the contract was backloaded. According to baseball-reference.com, he will be paid 15 million in 2013 and 16 million in 2014.
If we add in the last deal, we’ll see that Anibal Sanchez was making eight million this year in his final arbitration season. On the open market he could have expected to make ten million a season or more. Unfortunately, the Marlins couldn’t offer arbitration because then they would have to offer him at least 11 million for one year according to the new arbitration rules. They didn’t want to risk that. Omar Infante was due to make four million next season as the team’s second baseman. Most teams would love a player of his caliber for that amount, but the Marlins figured that Emilio Bonifacio could cover that slot for much less.
So, stop me if this sounds familiar. The Marlins go out and spend a bunch of money in the hopes that some attractive free agents attract some new fans. When the fans don’t show up like they want or when the new free agents don’t really pan out they start to burn down the village. Is it ringing a bell yet? Meet the new Marlins, same as the old Marlins.