MILWAUKEE — When a player has been around as long as Aramis Ramirez, he has likely been the subject of trade rumors at some point in his career.
So the fact his name has already popped up as a player likely to be moved by the last-place Milwaukee Brewers before the July 31 trade deadline comes as no surprise to the veteran third baseman.
"We’ve put the team in position where they have to make moves at some point," Ramirez said. "Hopefully we play good the next couple of weeks and they change their mind."
It has been a frustrating year for Ramirez, who during spring training announced the 2015 season would be his last. Ramirez has been one of the handful of veterans on the roster who have significantly underperformed over the first two-and-a-half months of the season.
Ramirez’s production has slipped over the past few years, but he was the National League starter at third base in the All-Star Game in 2014 and finished the year hitting .285 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI.
But through 56 games this season, the 36-year-old is hitting just .210 with seven home runs and 24 RBI.
"It has been a long season so far," Ramirez said. "I just have to keep showing up and playing. Hopefully things start falling into place.
"I have good days and bad days. Baseball is an everyday job. I have to be more consistent in my position."
Capped by a three-double game in which he drove in five runs against Washington on June 12, Ramirez hit .364 with four extra-base hits over a recent six-game stretch. But he’s just 2 for 20 (.100) in the five games he’s played in since, dispelling the thought of the three-time All-Star heating up at the plate.
"To me, he’s still a presence in the lineup, and to me, he’s still a hitter," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He is. I know it’s been a little bit of a struggle for him, but he’s still got a good swing, and it’s pure, and you just feel like he might have a little run in him where he gets hot.
"He was an All-Star last year; I think we kind of (forget that). So it’s in there still, I think. He’s more than capable of a good stretch."
Ramirez has been a second-half player throughout his first 17 years in the big leagues, as evidenced by his .294 career second-half batting average. He usually starts heating up in early June, which could provide teams with some hope he will be at least a productive offensive player in the second half.
The Brewers have yet to come out and say it, but they are undoubtedly sellers sitting at 20 games under .500 and 20 games out of first place on June 19.
Ramirez does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he will likely wind up playing out the final months of his career with a team other than the Brewers. A recent report indicated the New York Mets were interested in acquiring Ramirez to fill in third base while David Wright is out, but those talks have not progressed past the preliminary stage.
"I can’t control that, so I can’t let that affect my play out there or anything else" Ramirez said. "It is what it is right now. We might be sellers. Who knows? . . . That’s the front office’s decision. They are going to do what’s best for the team.
"I haven’t really thought about it. If I get traded, so be it. I can’t control that."
Ramirez was traded at the deadline in 2003, when he was shipped from Pittsburgh to the Chicago Cubs with Kenny Lofton in exchange for Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and Matt Bruback.
Coming off a season in which he hit .300 with 34 home runs and 112 RBI in 2002, a 25-year-old Ramirez was completely caught off guard by his trade to Chicago.
"It was a surprise," Ramirez said. "I was only 25. I wasn’t making that much money then. So that surprised me."
This time around, there will be no such surprise.
"When you are not playing well, you cut salary," Ramirez said. "They will probably do it here. Who knows?"