The Los Angeles Dodgers won the stunning Hanley Ramirez sweepstakes and will wake up with a new franchise infielder, while the Florida Marlins continue to deconstruct a ballyhooed roster mistakenly thought to be a World Series contender.
Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate reportedly are heading to the Dodgers for young righty Nathan Eovaldi and minor-league pitcher Scott McGough in a deal that broke around midnight Wednesday morning, Hollywood time. No money will change hands, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, so the new Dodgers owners will have the pleasure of paying Ramirez what he is owed for 2012, plus the combined $31.5 million he'll make in 2013 and 2014.
The Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics also were said to be among the teams interested in Ramirez. Instead, he's going to L.A., where they still probably have 100,000 No. 99 jerseys sitting in a warehouse left over from the Manny Ramirez era.
Meanwhile, another Great Marlins Purge is underway. Unlike the ones after 1997 and 2003, they forgot to win the World Series first this time. They spent nearly $200 million on three free-agent targets in the offseason but have begun to tear it down only months later. On Monday, Florida toppled the first domino by trading pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Tigers for prospect pitcher Jacob Turner. Hanley's deal obviously is bigger.
Ramirez, 28, is having a second consecutive down season in Florida, but he was one of the game's better players from 2006-2010 — being named NL Rookie of the Year, winning a batting title and finishing second in NL MVP voting during that span. After adding Jose Reyes in free agency during the most recent offseason, the Marlins moved Ramirez to third base, and he begrudgingly accepted. (It's not certain if Ramirez's long-term future is at short or third base with the Dodgers.)
The Marlins, playing in a new ballpark and with their own reality TV show, expected to contend for the World Series after making several big-name additions, but are 45-52 and 12 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East. Inclusive in all of the Marlins' changes, they hoped to spark Ramirez, who nonetheless is batting .246/.322/.430 with 14 homers and 14 stolen bases.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told reporter Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that everyone involved needs a do-over:
"It's no secret I love the kid. He needs to have a fresh beginning, a new beginning. This is a very painful moment for me. But we had to do something."
Right-hander Josh Johnson, a perennial Cy Young candidate who also battles injuries frequently, probably will go next. The Marlins are expected to keep the ballpark they didn't pay for (H/N @JonHeymanCBS), which includes fish tanks behind home plate and the funkiest Home Run Device (H/N @sasgendo) in the majors. But no more Hanley and Choate, who was one of the better lefty relievers (perhaps the best) on the trade market.
Eovaldi, 22, came into the season as one of the Dodgers' top prospects (albeit in a weak system). He has a 4.15 ERA in 10 starts with L.A. and could be a No. 3 or 4 starter in the long run. McGough's last name is pronounced like that of "McGruff, the Crime Dog."