By Jason Shetler
As the Pirates continue to search for trade candidates, one name that has been brought up recently is White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez. The native of Cuba, is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball right now. However, his offense has taken a real dip since his rookie season in 2008. Here’s Ramirez’ home run total and OPS since his rookie year.
2008: 21 HR/.792 OPS in 480 at-bats
2009: 15 HR/.723 OPS in 542 at-bats
2010: 18 HR/.744 OPS in 585 at-bats
2011: 15 HR/.727 OPS in 614 at-bats
2012: 9 HR/.651 OPS in 593 at-bats
2013: 1 HR/.681 OPS in 375 at-bats
The fact that Ramirez only has one home run this season is alarming, not just because he’s played all season long, but because he also plays his home games at hitter friendly U.S. Cellular Field. And, PNC Park as we know, is not friendly to right-handed hitters. His OPS this year and last year are a far cry from where it was in 2008. Part of that obviously is the decline in power, but most of it is because of a mediocre on-base percentage. The issue for getting Ramirez wouldn’t be about trading which prospects, but the remaining money on his contract. Ramirez is due to make $9.5M next season and $10M for 2015, which is certainly a ton of money for someone who’s production has steadily gone down. Although Jordy Mercer has struggled since becoming the Pirates regular shortstop, he hasn’t even made 200 at-bats this season, so I think it’s still early to write off Mercer. Not only that, but with Mercer being 26, he has room to improve, while Rios, who is currently 31, is starting to decline with his production. I just think acquiring someone like Alexei Ramirez would be more name recognition than performance.