A Whole Year of Hanley Ramirez

July 25, 2013 at 11:04 am | Posted in Hanley Ramirez | Leave a comment

ramirez_i_see_you_2013-07-20One year ago today, the Dodgers traded Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough for Hanley Ramirez (and the remaining $37 million or so on his contract) and Randy Choate. How’s that looking a year later?

Ramirez: .313/.367/.542 with 20 homers in 444 PA with Dodgers, 4.7 WAR, two trips to disabled list
Choate: 4.89 FIP in 13.1 IP for Dodgers in 2012, signed shocking three-year deal with St. Louis
Eovaldi: 67/42 K/BB in 18 starts (97.2 innings) with Marlins, missed 2.5 months with shoulder trouble
McGough: 45/13 K/BB in Double-A this year, Southern League All-Star, made Triple-A debut July 12

Ramirez has been a superstar when healthy, which was never going to happen in Miami. Eovaldi is still just 23 with a bright future, McGough is a decent-if-less-than-elite prospect, and Jeffrey Loria got to save a whole ton of money. Sure seems like a trade that worked out all the way around to me, though the edge always has to go to the team that got the best player, and right now, that’s the Dodgers.

At the time, we liked the deal

This is in no way a trade without a substantial amount of risk, which we’ll get to in a second, but my first impression is that I really, really like taking the chance here. We’ve been over so many times how impossible it was going to be to find a bat in this market, particularly one who can play third base and isn’t able to walk at the end of the season, and to be able to do that and get a decent lefty bullpen arm without having to give up your top prospects is just phenomenal.

…while acknowledging the risk.

So the concern is obvious: Ramirez is expensive, moody, and a poor defender. (Why does that sound so familiar?) Yet he’s on the right side of 30 and undeniably talented, and players like that rarely come available in the free market. Offense, particularly infield offense, is so hard to find these days that you’re going to have to take some risks in order to try to find production. The hope is that Ramirez can be a good change-of-scenery guy, and while his attitude is indeed a concern, running a solid clubhouse is one area where Don Mattingly has proven to be adept.

How do we feel a year later? We’ve seen absolutely no problems in that area, at least publicly, other than some grumblings that the team wasn’t all that happy with the limited amount of shortstop he was playing over the winter. Ramirez, by all indications, has been an outstanding teammate.

When he’s been healthy — and of course, he hasn’t always been — he’s been outstanding, and that 4.7 WAR doesn’t even really tell the entire story, because the guys we’ve had to suffer through in his absences (Dee Gordon & Justin Sellers, mainly) have been decidedly less than replacement value. If you consider Gordon & Sellers to be the “replacement level” that the Dodgers have, it’s not overstating it to say that Ramirez has been worth something like six-to-seven wins over the guys behind him. That’s close to MVP level performance.

If the true test of a trade is “would you make it again knowing what you know now,” and while Eovaldi has value and McGough has done well, I can’t imagine any Dodger fan would even briefly consider undoing this one. Really, this deal was the first one that showed just what Guggenheim money could do, because it allowed Ned Colletti to acquire a talent like Ramirez without having to give up any of his truly top talent.

One year on, this trade looks just as good — better, even — than it did when it happened. If it feels like we don’t get to say that often enough, enjoy this feeling.

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