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Trading Jose Ramirez

(John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star) 
Okay, I'll bite on this topic.

Today, John Morosi tweeted out that "#Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez an intriguing trade possibility. Only 22, he's having good offensive year at AAA but blocked by Lindor." The statement, by itself, is fairly innocuous. JRam is an intriguing trade possibility, he is only 22, and he is having a fantastic Triple A season.

Welcome folks, to the land of isolation.

Now I must state that, I'm firmly aware that Morosi was only making an 140-character statement, but I also need to counter that with a firm awareness that it is possible in this busy, busy world, to dive more into JRam's 143 plate appearances in Columbus, which cover a grand total of 32 games.

Chances are, if you're reading this, you are aware that Ramirez also has 173 plate appearances this season, covering 47 games, as the starting shortstop for your very own Cleveland Indians.

Let's compare, shall we.

With Cleveland:



With Columbus:



Okay, a few things here. I'm firmly aware that I'm comparing Major League stats to Minor League stats, and that they're really not comparable. Obviously, MLB pitching is excessively more trying that Triple A. I'm also aware that Columbus is a bandbox, and while I'm not even looking at Park Factor here, instead dwelling on traditional stats, you have to take that into account.

So just so we're clear, it's easier to hit in Triple A, and it's easier to hit at Huntington Park, where Columbus calls home.

Now, again, to make sure we're not in isolation, I'm also award that JRam has had some success already in the bigs, although it was a small sample size in 2013 (15 games) and 2014 (68 games). I'm also aware that he's really raked in the minors up to this point, at every level, and using most every sort of statistic, whether it be traditional or analytical. Sure, there are holes, but there's also a lot to like. He has speed, can put the bat on the ball, and can likely play  a multitude of positions pretty well.

I'm also aware that he's "blocked" in Cleveland at shortstop by Francisco Lindor, even though shortstop isn't his primary position. Of course, 2B is his best position, and he's not uprooting Jason Kipnis any time soon.

Now that we've gotten all of that over with, let's get back to the original statement.

Jose Ramirez is an intriguing trade candidate.

He is enticing, especially as a player who has had more than a taste in the bigs, with plus-plus speed, and some upside offensively. He could be a plus defender at second for someone who gives him a chance there, and he's not a guy that's been injured much in his career.

In a long-ago discussion with one of EHC's resident twitter-metric gurus, John Grimm, he made a solid case that Ramirez would likely be a 2+ WAR player over his first six full seasons. I don't think that's a stretch in the least. This isn't meant to be a numbers piece per se, but I do just want to clarify that JRam has potential value to a team in need.

I know that prior to this year, the Chicago Cubs were highly interested in acquiring JRam. The Indians just had more leverage at that point.

Perhaps one of our fantastic metrics writers could dive into this a bit more, as the deadline creeps closer, because there is no doubt that this front office is putting that Ramirez-packet together as we speak.

But let me counter.

What do you get for Jose Ramirez? What does an opposing GM say to Chris Antonetti when he says, "So, let's talk about (insert a major league ready name at a position of need for the Indians) for Jose Ramirez." While both GMs will understand JRam's potential long-term value, the discussion will begin and end with, "He just hasn't proven himself enough to make that kind of deal."

The other piece of this revolves around the financial stakes. In a straight up trade, the Indians could literally only take on another pre-arbitration player, to the tune of $500,000 or so, because they are currently at the cusp of their payroll.

So to trade Ramirez, the Indians would need to either get a really good prospect at another position of need, or get a major league piece that fits right now, for a potential stretch run. The former makes some sense, if you can find a team that has an abundance of corner power, or perhaps a nicely ranked center fielder. The latter makes sense in theory, but not fiscally.

Why would they deal the much cheaper Jose Ramirez, when you can move Mike Aviles and his current salary, and gather a bit more short-term financial flexibility? So, if you're thinking, "well, Aviles is a proven veteran who is hitting, and I'm not sure JRam will do that for us." You may be right, but that essential argument is exactly why his trade value is a long, long way from being a primary piece in any deal of consequence.

Let me just say this: if Antonetti can make that type of move for JRam, he should be given the job permanently, until he dies. He's made moves that have been advantageous to the Tribe before, so it's not a stretch to say it's "not impossible," it's just not likely.

So, what then, would Ramirez's trade value be going forward prior to the deadline?

He would most likely be a part of a larger package of players to bring in a much more substantial piece. You can really insert any name you want as the "substantial piece," but JRam would likely not be the center piece of that deal, but simply a "nice addition."

I guess that my point here is that if you're going to be looking at JRam as trade-bait, or Aviles, you are likely looking at either a deal that straight-up, is fairly insignificant to this year's team, or in a package, likely has our focus on a couple of other primary pieces.

Of course, if you find just the right team, who has just the right overabundance of pieces, you really never know, and if that happens, commend Antonetti for it, in the same way you should commend him on several other solid deals he's made over the years. It's not likely, but possible.

You also have to realize that his long-term value might be higher in Cleveland, as he immediately becomes the Mike Aviles-replacement in 2016, or should the Indians decide to move the current utility player this year. The Indians don't have to hard-sell themselves on his value, and will need to save money with rising arbitration and salary costs next year.

If you want to make a statement, I do think the Indians could turn Ryan Raburn and David Murphy into some interesting capital this year, but it would likely be a major hit to an already struggling offense. My guess is that Antonetti and Terry Francona are both looking to improve the team this year, and it's likely that JRam isn't the guy that can make that happen, in isolation.
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