After Miami completed one trade Monday that shipped Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers, speculation was already running rampant that more moves would soon follow. Marlins fans didn’t have to wait long, as the team completed another big trade late Tuesday that shipped longtime face of the franchise Hanley Ramirez and left-handed reliever Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.
For Ramirez this is the second time he’s headlined a trade in his career, as he was the key piece acquired by Miami (along with Sanchez) when they sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston prior to the 2006 season. That year Ramirez wowed most of the National League opposition, batting .292/.353/.480 in 700 plate appearances with 17 HR, 59 RBI, and 51 stolen bases while on his way towards winning the Rookie of the Year Award. It was the first in a string of solid seasons for Ramirez, who became a regular fixture among the game’s best players over the next four seasons. From 2007 through 2010 Ramirez batted a combined .319/.394/.532 over 600 games, adding 107 HR and 330 RBI. He won the batting title in 2009 (hitting .342), appeared in three All Star Games, won a pair of Silver Slugger Awards, and twice finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting.
Last year, however, was another story as Ramirez struggled to a .243/.333/.379 line in 385 plate appearances. He also missed the season’s final two months after injuring his shoulder trying to make a diving catch in early August and would end up undergoing surgery during the offseason. This year he hasn’t fared much better, batting .246/.322/.428 in 395 plate appearances before the trade after shifting from shortstop to third base with the Marlins’ winter signing of Jose Reyes.
While he’s no longer the player he was a few years ago, Ramirez still may have plenty to offer another club which could explain why there were reportedly numerous teams that expressed interest in acquiring him. With the Dodgers he will likely return to shortstop, at least temporarily while Dee Gordon is on the disabled list. Upon Gordon’s return Ramirez will presumably slide back over to third base. He’s under team control through 2014 and is slated to earn $15.5 Million next season and $16 Million the following. Miami did not send any cash along with the deal, meaning the Dodgers will pay the entirety of that remaining balance.
Choate, meanwhile, will provide Don Mattingly and the Dodgers a solid left-handed reliever to work into their bullpen mix as they hope to remain atop the NL West for another two months. The former Yankee prospect has bounced around a bit in his career, having seen big-league time with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rays, and Marlins before landing in L.A. He was even a member of the Montreal Expos organization from December 2003 until March 2004 when he was dealt to Arizona for John Patterson. This year Choate holds a 2.49 ERA and 0.987 WHIP through 44 appearances (25.1 innings).
Eovaldi was ranked at the Dodgers’ #3 prospect heading into the season, according to Baseball America, and the #96 prospect in baseball. He fell in the 2008 Draft to the 11th Round after undergoing Tommy John Surgery while still in high school, something that caused a number of teams to shy away from selecting him. The 22 year old has had a rough season with the Dodgers this year, posting a 1-6 record and 4.15 ERA in 10 starts (56.1 innings). The hard thrower (he’s hit over 100 MPH on his fastball in the past with regularity) has strong minor league numbers for his career, including a 3.28 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9. With Monday’s addition of Jacob Turner, Miami now has two young and promising right-handed starters to build around moving forward.
As for McGough, he’s spent his professional career working out of the bullpen within the Dodgers organization since being drafted last June in the 5th Round. Through 61 appearances (73.1 innings) he holds a 3.56 ERA and has struck out more than a batter per inning (9.9 K/9). He was pitching for L.A.’s High-A affiliate at the time of the trade.
Washington certainly won’t be sorry to see Ramirez leave the NL East. Over his career Ramirez was a problem for the Nationals’ pitchers, batting a combined .342/.430/.637 with 27 HR (his highest total versus any singular opponent … and by a decent margin) and 74 RBI. With him now on the West Coast those meetings will be fewer and farther between, unless the Nationals and Dodgers meet in the playoffs this October which could be a realistic possibility.