About two weeks ago, I wrote that Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton would be a good fit for the Athletics, who rarely attract hitters of that caliber on the free-agent market.
Several Athletics fans pointed out — correctly — that the team had a greater need at shortstop. And, truth be told, the A’s also aren’t so hot at second base and third.
So forget Upton, here’s an even better idea:
The Marlins clearly are willing to move Ramirez, as they demonstrated in their proposed trade with the Red Sox for left fielder Carl Crawford last week.
The Athletics, meanwhile, are tied for the lead in the race for the second AL wild card, and they trail the Rangers by just 5½ games in the AL West and the Angels by a ½-game.
Though it has been a while, A’s general manager Billy Beane never has been shy about acquiring players when his team stands a chance of reaching the postseason. This team, leading the AL in ERA by a sizable 0.3 runs per nine innings, certainly fits that description.
Beane, major league sources say, already is canvassing the market for shortstops and other infielders. He could trade for the Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar or Diamondbacks’ Stephen Drew. He could make a run at a famed Oakland native, the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins, or perhaps try to acquire a third baseman such as the Padres’ Chase Headley.
Ramirez, though, is more intriguing than any of them.
The Athletics could move him back to shortstop from third base, and watch him go off.
Might Ramirez’s questionable makeup be an issue for the seemingly happy-go-lucky A’s? Of course. But Beane has always emphasized talent over makeup, and Ramirez, sidelined by a hand infection, is on a 23-homer, 79-RBI pace even while batting only .246 with a .762 OPS.
Escobar would come at a lower acquisition cost, but he also has makeup questions and is a much lesser hitter. Rollins would be the most fan-friendly addition, bringing charisma and postseason experience. But Rollins, 33, is four years older than Ramirez, and no longer a dynamic offensive player.
What’s more, Rollins is owed at least $27 million from 2013 to ’15 and has the right to veto any trade as a player with 10 years of major-league service, the last five with the same team.
Ramirez, on the other hand, lacks a no-trade clause. He is due a ton of money — the rest of his $11 million salary this season, $15.5 million next season and $16 million in 2014. But the Athletics possess some financial flexibility, and the Marlins could always include cash to get better prospects.
In the past, Beane always has aimed high as a buyer, seeking the biggest potential impact. Ramirez would deliver that type of impact, and a change would do him good.