Friday, November 7, 2014

Yankees Rumors: Alexei Ramirez at short?

As Scott Boras pushes Stephen Drew on anyone who will listen, the New York Yankees are doing their due diligence on available shortstops in the trade market. According to Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com, the Yanks have contacted the Chicago White Sox about Alexei Ramirez.

Ramirez, 33, will earn $10 million in 2015 and has an club option for another $10 million in 2016, or a $1 million buyout. Levine rightly suggests that this is a fairly good bargain for a thin position and for a player who has been quite consistent while playing for the South Siders.



Ramirez would certainly seem to be a good fit for the Yankees. He’s got a potent bat, good speed and is adept in the field. He has shown significant durability throughout his seven-year career. Ramirez would need to play to a WAR in 1.4 to 1.8 range for each of the two seasons (based on $5.5 million and $7.0 million per 1.0 WAR). Similar seasons to his most recent would easily surpass the value.

At issue is the fact that the Yankees would have significant competition in a chase for Ramirez. The New York Mets have been interested in Ramirez for some time now and Levine also links the Los Angeles Dodgers to the newly minted Silver Slugger.

Levine suggests the White Sox are looking for “power pitching” and he notes the Mets have two players who might fit the bill – Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. Whether the Mets are interested in parting ways with these two remains to be seen, but if that is the market for Ramirez, do the Yankees have what it takes to get involved and have a chance of securing Ramirez?

Syndergaard, 22, went 9-7 with a 4.60 ERA at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014. He racked up 145 strikeouts in 133 innings. He was rated the #11 prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus and #16 by Baseball America pre-2014. His fastball grades at a 70 according to MLB.com with his heater regularly touching 98 mph.

Montero, 24, was 6-4 with a 3.60 ERA with 80 Ks in 80 innings. He also appeared in 10 games (eight starts) for the Mets, posting a 4.06 ERA (5.14 FIP) in 44.1 innings. MLB.com ranked Montero 85th and Baseball America tabbed him the 68th best prospect heading into the 2014 season.

As I look through the Yankees’ system, I’m fairly certain there isn't a pitcher with a profile similar to Syndergaard or Montero and also has the experience level they bring to the table. Again, it bears repeating that the Mets might feel either of those names are too lofty for Ramirez. In my view, the closest players the Yankees have in so far as makeup is concerned would be Shane Greene, Manny Banuelos and Bryan Mitchell.

Greene, 25, was promoted to the Bronx after just 66.1 innings with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Once in New York Greene impressed, going 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA (3.73 FIP). He struck out 81 batters in 78.1 innings. Greene was a 15th round pick in the 2009 amateur draft. Greene’s fastball averaged 93.4 mph and a sinker at 93.9 mph in 2014 with the Yankees according to PITCHf/x data.

Banuelos, who turns 24 in March, pitched in three levels last season going a combined, 2-3, with a 4.11 ERA in 76.2 innings. He struck out 71 batters. Prior to the 2012 season, Banuelos was ranked as high as #13 by MLB.com, and 29th by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America before missing most of 2012 and all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Banuelos could see some time in New York in 2015 if injuries force the Yankees’ hand.

Mitchell, 24 in April, threw 103 total innings at Double-A Trenton and Triple-A SWB. He compiled a 4.37 ERA over the time with 94 strikeouts, but 45 walks. He throws in the 91-97 mph range and has a power curve at the 84-mph mark according to MLB.com’s most recent report where Mitchell is ranked #20 in the Yankees’ organization. Mitchell received a late season callup in 2014 and figures to get some time with the big club in 2015 considering the potential for injury in the Yankees rotation.

Greene might be the most enticing to the White Sox and his experience in the majors could be something that interests the White Sox. The issue here is that Greene did not have the notoriety of Syndergaard or Montero, or even Banuelos and Mitchell, as he went through the Yankees’ minor league circuit. But, he did show plenty of maturity and poise while helping to keep the Yankees rotation afloat this past season.

The Yankees best pitching prospects are Luis Severino (ranked #62 by MLB.com and the Yankees top prospect) and Ian Clarkin (#4 among Yankees’ minor leaguers), but they are very young and likely being groomed for the stage in New York. I'm doubting the Yankees would entertain trading either of these two for Ramirez.

As I’ve mentioned recently, there is not a lot of wealth in the free agent market this season or next at shortstop. Going after Ramirez might make some sense in the fact that it holds over the team for two seasons and he is quite economical. It would provide the Yankees with an established and consistent offensive threat who has adequate ability to field the position.

The question becomes whether the White Sox would be interested in any of the three players I mentioned (and possibly an additional player required to sweeten any deal) and/or if the Yankees are willing to part ways with them knowing each of the veterans penciled into the 2015 rotation comes with injury speculation.

It will be interesting to see if this picks up any steam for the Yankees. What do you think? Is Ramirez a fit in the Bronx? Do the Yanks have what it takes to gain his services? Let me know in the comments below.

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs (chart) and Baseball-Reference.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



1 comment:

  1. He looks like a good fit for the Yankees and I would like to have him but I doubt they can get him.

    ReplyDelete