COMMENTARY | With the Major League Baseball trade deadline July 31 and beginning to sneak up on the calendar, many teams are making the tough decision on whether they are sellers or buyers.
For the Oakland Athletics, this is an easy choice. Coming into play on the morning of June 28, they sit a half-game back of the Texas Rangers in the American League West with a 46-34 record. General manager Billy Beane is certainly in buy mode but needs to find the right piece at the right price, considering the A's frugal ownership.
One player who has been rumored to Oakland is shortstop Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox. Former general manager and ESPN analyst Jim Bowden believes Ramirez would be a nice fit in the Bay Area.
Let's take a closer look to see exactly how well he fits.
From a positional standpoint, Ramirez, 31, makes plenty of sense. Currently, the A's have Jed Lowrie playing shortstop and he's been terrific, hitting .306 with four homers and 30 RBIs. However, Lowrie is a defensive liability with limited range and a rather weak arm.
Lowrie has played plenty of second base both this year and in his career, making the switch practically seamless. Current second baseman Eric Sogard has played surprisingly well but could be upgraded due to having no power (as in, no home runs at all) and a meager nine RBIs.
Ramirez isn't a top-notch defender, but he has a good glove and brings a decent bat to an already legitimate A's lineup, ranking sixth in runs scored.
This season, Ramirez is batting .280 but only showcases one home run and a .308 on-base percentage. This is undoubtedly a turnoff to Beane and the brass. Although Ramirez does have 18 steals, a trait becoming more valuable by the day in Oakland's world.
The main problem with this equation is money. Ramirez doesn't make a ton of cash but is signed through the 2015 season with an escalating salary. In 2013, Ramirez makes $7 million before jumping to $9.5 and then $10 million before a team option in 2016 for an additional $10 million.
For a team like the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, that's chump change. For Oakland, it's very rich. Unless Chicago took on some of the salary -- which is highly unlikely -- the A's would be faced with taking on significant payroll.
Ultimately, it's tough to see Oakland pulling the trigger on a deal like this. Beane values on-base percentage and power, and owner Lew Wolff enjoys a low payroll too much to bring on Ramirez. Is Ramirez worth giving up a prospect or two on top of paying him a substantial salary? Probably not.
If the A's are going to make a splash at the deadline, it will likely be a player who has an expiring contract come the end of this year. In the past, Oakland has gone after players such as Ray Durham and Johnny Damon who are nothing more than rentals for a few months.
Don't expect that to change unless a deal comes along too good for Beane to refuse.
Matt Verderame is a lifelong Oakland A's follower and has been published in the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin and also at SB Nation among other papers and websites. His twitter handle is @MattVerderame.
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- Oakland Athletics
- Billy Beane
- Jed Lowrie