The new owners of the Dodgers may have sent a warning to the rest of the MLB, as well as a few of their players, when they obtained shortstop/third baseman Hanley Ramirez and reliever Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins. The message is – “We will be reckoned with.”
In a trade that was announced at about 2AM EST Wednesday morning, the Dodgers sent two young pitchers, Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough, to the Marlins in order to shore up two positions they had to in order to be taken as a serious contender in the NL pennant race.
Ramirez is currently batting .246 with 14 home runs. The Dodgers are getting very little from the left side of their infield this season. Third baseman Juan Uribe has been a free agent bust. He is hitting just .190 this season after batting an anemic .204 in 2011. The acquisition of Ramirez has only added fuel to the rumors the Dodgers are looking to part ways with Uribe. Shortstop Dee Gordon went on the DL earlier this month when he tore ligaments in his thumb during a “hands-first” slide into third base. Gordon’s speed on the bases had added a lot of excitement this season. Too bad the same can’t be said about his bat. Gordon is hitting only .229. Between Gordon, Uribe, and two other utility infield veterans, Adam Kennedy and Jerry Hairston, the Dodgers have a total of eight home runs from third base and shortstop.
“The addition of a hitter the caliber of Hanley Ramirez improves our lineup from top to bottom, inserting a proven run producer to go along with Matt and Andre,” said Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti. “We’re excited for Hanley to begin a new chapter in Los Angeles.”
Ramirez appeared to be a “lock” as the Marlins shortstop for a long time when he averaged 25 home runs and a .325 BA between 2007 and 2010. But after he fell off to .243 with 10 home runs in 2011, Miami decided to sign Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Although Ramirez accepted a switch to third base this season, questions lingered how happy he really was. The hope is with the Dodgers penciling him in at shortstop for now, Ramirez will regain whatever energy he had lost up to this point. Now, when I see a guy like Ramirez fall off as he has, the question of “juicing” can’t be avoided. The hope, of course, is that Ramirez will feel comfortable playing the position he really wants to. For $40 million, he better.
Choate, 36, adds something the Dodgers have been clamoring for since spring training-another left handed reliever. He is currently 0-0 with a 2.49 ERA. Scott Elbert was the only lefty in the bullpen so manager Don Mattingly now has a second option. It also may give the Dodgers a chance to include Elbert, a player who disappointed when given a chance to be a starter but has found his place as a late inning reliever, in another trade.
Eovaldi (1-6, 4.15 ERA), 22, is in his second big league season. His record might have been better if not for a lethargic Dodgers offense. Eovaldi had given up more than three runs only twice in his 10 starts this season. Meanwhile, the Dodgers had scored a total of seven runs in those games. McCough is currently 3-5 for the Dodgers A+ affiliate.
The most interesting side story to this trade is the fact Ramirez is in the middle of a contract that will pay him $40 million between now and 2014. The contract makes this deal a “blockbuster” in terms of finances. Team president Stan Kasten’s signature is on this trade and this kind of $$ outlay could be a sign the Dodgers are living by the credo many baseball writers predicted shortly after the $2.1 billion purchase from Frank McCourt became official – that any big name free agent will have to go through Los Angeles in addition to the “usual suspects,” New York and Boston.
As far as other trades, don’t be surprised if the Dodgers obtain another starter. Eovaldi was in the rotation due to injuries to Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley. Matt Garza of the Cubs and Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays are two pitchers the Dodgers are reportedly looking at now that it appears they will fall short in efforts to obtain Garza’s teammate, Ryan Dempster.