Recent Posts

Pirates Getting The Gang Back Together, Trade For Aramis Ramirez

Everything old comes back in style.  Ramirez came up to MLB with a Clinton in office, leaving with a Clinton running Photo array by Michael Bradley for TPOP

Everything old comes back in style. Ramirez came up to MLB with a Clinton in office, leaving with a Clinton running
Photo array by Michael Bradley for TPOP

On July 6th, Josh Harrison tore ligaments in his thumb sliding into second base. He isn’t projected to return until late August/early September. While this was a blow to the team, there wasn’t an overwhelming sense of dread due to the fact that Jung-ho Kang could step in and fill his shoes at 3B, both offensively and defensively. The Pirates still had Jordy Mercer at SS, with his improving bat and steady defense, and Neil Walker at 2B who was doing Neil Walker types of things.

But then last Sunday, Carlos Gomez took Mercer’s legs out from under him on a slide into 2nd and now Mercer is out for six weeks with a sprained MCL, placing him on the same timeline to return as Harrison. As a result, Kang has shifted to SS and Brett Morel has been recalled (and placed onto the 40-man roster, so he wasn’t even worth that designation prior to last Sunday). Morel is solid defensively and intangible offensively. A club with designs on the postseason can’t move down the stretch with this alignment.

As Matthew McConaughey’s character, Rust Cohle, said on last season’s True Detective, “Time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.”

So it’s only fitting that in true circular fashion, the Pirates acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers on July 23, 2015, twelve years to the day that the Pirates traded him to the Cubs, in what is most likely the worst trade in modern Pirate history. The return from the Cubs was Matt Bruback, Bobby Hill, and Jose Hernandez. Oh, and the Pirates also gave up Kenny Lofton.

With Aramis Ramirez on the team, the clubhouse is starting to resemble the baseball equivalent of an AARP meeting, as both Ramirez and A.J. Burnett have stated that 2015 will be their final seasons. Prior to July, it looked like Ramirez was just shambling his way to the finish line, as his triple slash line on June 30th was .222/.261/.413 with 9 HR’s. However, Ramirez has come to life in July with a .352/.422/.500 line with 2 HR’s, making him a slightly more attractive trade chip to other teams.

The Pirates are paying $3M of Ramirez’s $5.74M remaining salary, with old Milwaukee paying the rest and getting RHP Yhonathan Barrios in the deal. Barrios is a converted infielder that was a high-bonus international signing back in 2008. He throws hard but his control is shaky and is nothing to lose sleep over in the long-term picture.

Much has changed since Ramirez left Pittsburgh in 2003. It is widely rumored that he was salary dumped to the Cubs so that the Pirates would come in line with MLB’s edict to rectify their debt-to-payroll ratio at the time. The debt was the lingering debt from the construction of PNC Park, which opened just two seasons before in 2001. Ramirez was making $3M in that 2003 and was due to be paid $6M in 2004 for a team with a payroll of $62M in 2003 that would be shrunk to $32M in 2004.

While the Pirates aren’t huge spenders still, the Pirates’ financials have stabilized in recent years, mostly due to the influx of revenue from the lucrative national TV deals and rising attendance numbers. But what is most different for Ramirez is that the Pirates are winners. The clubhouse is not nearly the toxic atmosphere it was when he left, as Manager Clint Hurdle has curated a team-first, positive attitude.

Aramis Ramirez will hopefully hold the fort down at 3B until Mercer and/or Harrison returns. If Mercer comes back, Kang will most likely go back to 3B and Ramirez will be a strong RH bat off the bench. If Harrison comes back first, Kang will stay at SS and Ramirez hits the bench. But if both of them come back, does Harrison shift to RF as the full-time starter over Polanco or at least play against lefties, while Ramirez remains as the 3B starter?

Regardless, the Pirates traded for a solid stopgap to plug the 3B hole until the cavalry returns. They also have a chance to help undo some of the bad karma inflicted on this franchise way back in 2003 in the process.

About Kevin Creagh (286 Articles)
Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

1 Comment on Pirates Getting The Gang Back Together, Trade For Aramis Ramirez

  1. Steve DiMiceli // July 24, 2015 at 10:56 AM //

    So NH get Ramirez for half about half the prospect value I expected the Brewers to get for him, they’re picking up almost half his salary and the Pirates get him a week early. Love is a good word for this deal.

Comments are closed.