Exploring The Rays and Manny Ramirez | The Process Report

Exploring The Rays and Manny Ramirez

One of the many rumors surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays before the non-waiver trade deadline involved the team asking the Los Angeles Dodgers about the services of Manny Ramirez. Unsurprisingly,  talks did not get far according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

Just yesterday, Ken Rosenthal mentioned that while the team is not in fire sale mode, the Dodgers might be willing to deal Ramirez – granted he waives his no-trade clause. Rosenthal speculates that a move to the American League as a designated hitter would be a wise one for Ramirez before his impending free agency this off-season. As luck would have it, the Rays are still looking for potential upgrades on offense and could use a stopper to hold the revolving DH-door.

In terms of talent and need, the Rays and Ramirez make sense. Although Dan Johnson presents a step-up from Hank Blalock, and the Tampa Bay version of Pat Burrell, Ramirez is still a better hitter. Despite missing half the season with a variety of ailments, the 38-year-old is hitting .317/.409/.516 in 220 plate appearances. Although his isolated power (ISO) is down around .200, 21 of his 59 hits have been of the extra-base variety.

A quick check of ZiPS projections for the rest of the season has Ramirez with a .408 weighted on-base average (wOBA). ZiPS peg Johnson with a .331 wOBA. The difference between the two players over 150 plate appearances is 10 runs – or 1.0 offensive win above replacement (WAR)*.

*Assuming both are full-time DH.

There are, however, a few obstacles. First, the Rays must  “win” any potential claim on Ramirez, or he would have to clear waivers. For this to happen, the Dodgers would need to place him on waivers – something they cannot do while he is on the disabled list.

Second, their place near the top of the standings is a disadvantage. There are not many teams below the Rays that would be willing to take on ~$3 million salary for a few months of Ramirez . That said, teams like the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and even the Boston Red Sox are in  position to block the Rays on waivers. The White Sox have been looking for another offensive piece, and the Rangers just placed slugger Nelson Cruz on the DL. The Red Sox present an unlikely scenario, but spending money to prevent the Rays from upgrading their offense might be something they would do.

The third hurdle is the ~$3 million itself. The Rays have already added over $1 million to the payroll with the acquisition of Chad Qualls. It would take some creative accounting to squeeze an additional $3 million for 2010. On the other hand, some of Ramirez’s remaining salary might be deferred to future seasons, and Stu Sternberg has said money would not be an object if the opportunity to upgrade becomes available.

With Luke Scott off the market (placed on waivers, but pulled back), the list of potential upgrades is diminishing by the day. If the chance to acquire Ramirez does present itself, the Rays would have to seriously consider making the $3 million investment.  Again, he would not be the true “value” the Rays so-often seek, but the potential for adding an extra win at this point of the season is well worth the risk in additional salary.