Trade Values: Alexei Ramirez

Last night we heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking at Alex Rios, and also might consider Alexei Ramirez. I’ve already done a Trade Values article on Rios. That article included a brief estimate of the value of Ramirez, although that came from just glancing at his stats and contracts, rather than digging in deep and looking at him closer. With last night’s rumor, I decided to look closer at Ramirez.

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects. Also check out our values for the prospects in the Pirates system to get an idea of what a deal would cost for the Pirates.

Alexei Ramirez Trade Value

Year Salary WAR FA Value Surplus Value
2013 $7,000,000 2.5 $12,700,000 $1,900,000
2014 $9,500,000 2.0 $10,200,000 $700,000
2015 $10,000,000 2.0 $10,200,000 $200,000
TOTAL $27,500,000 6.5 $33,100,000 $1,800,000

Finding the Value: What we know about Alexei Ramirez is that he has a huge contract. He’s owed $2.3 M in the final two months of the 2013 season. After that he has $20.5 M guaranteed over the next two seasons, which includes a $1 M buyout on his 2016 option. What we don’t know is the WAR. He was a 4.0 WAR player in 2010-2011, but his bat saw a big decline last year, and hasn’t bounced back this year. If you average the last three years, he’s around a 3.0 WAR player. But the problem is that last year he was a 1.9 WAR player, and this year he’s on pace for a little over 2.5. He’s also 32 years old in September. That means you can’t just chalk up the poor hitting lately to a down period. It’s very possible that Ramirez is a defense-only shortstop with a weak bat from here on out. Therefore, I gave him a 2.5 WAR this year, and went with a 2.0 the following years.

What He’s Worth: With no salary relief, Ramirez is worth a Grade C pitching prospect. He’s a strong defensive shortstop, but he’s also aging, has a declining bat, and a huge contract. A team trading for him is taking on about $23 M through the end of the 2015 season. His value is probably Clint Barmes with a better bat, but not a good bat. The main value Ramirez has is name value. If the White Sox pick up salary, they can increase the return. I’m sure the White Sox would want to do that, although I’m not sure if the Pirates or any other team would want to go with that approach and pay more in prospects for Ramirez.

Analysis: Rios and Ramirez together have a value of about $4 M. That’s not even a Grade B prospect. Instead it’s two Grade C prospects. They both have name value, but the actual value is low due to their huge contracts. Any team trading for them is going to be taking on about $40 M over the next three years. If the White Sox picked up half of that money, they’d get a better trade return. That would be worth a top 100 hitting prospect, plus a Grade B hitter or two Grade C pitchers.

The question is, do you give up prospects to get Rios and/or Ramirez at a lower price? Both guys are older. Rios has been inconsistent with his play the last few years. Ramirez looks to be on the decline. You don’t really know what you’re going to get with either player. There’s the chance that the values I’m giving them (3.0 for Rios, 2.0 for Ramirez) will be too high. Rios could have one of his down years next year, while Ramirez could continue to decline. In that scenario, even with the White Sox picking up money, both players would still be over-paid.

There’s two things in play here. One is the name value. The other is the “grass is greener” effect. Rios and Ramirez would be replacing Jose Tabata and Jordy Mercer, respectively. Rios and Ramirez win on name value. The only reason you’d be trading for them is the idea that someone from the outside could definitely upgrade what you have. But let’s look at the numbers:

Rios: .270/.326/.429, 5.5 UZR/150, 1.8 WAR in 384 PA

Tabata: .293/.351/.431, -30.9 UZR/150, 0.3 WAR in 136 PA

Ramirez: .286/.311/.358, 6.7 UZR/150, 1.7 WAR in 391 PA

Mercer: .257/.309/.383, 4.2 UZR/150, 0.9 WAR in 191 PA

Tabata has been hitting better than Rios, although he has a third of the plate appearances. Rios is a clear upgrade defensively, and has more overall value. The “name value” aspect is going to suggest that Tabata won’t keep this up, while Rios could do better.

It’s almost a similar situation with Ramirez and Mercer. They’re almost identical hitting. Ramirez has a higher average, but they’re both about the same getting on base since Mercer actually draws walks. Mercer hits for more power, giving him more offensive value. Ramirez is better at defense, although Mercer isn’t bad. I will point out that one year UZR/150 totals aren’t the best way to go. Rios, Tabata, and Ramirez all have totals that line up with their career numbers, so I trust those more. With Mercer you have to rely more on the eye test to confirm the numbers. I feel the UZR/150 numbers are accurate for his defensive skills.

In the future, I think Mercer will be the better shortstop, which makes acquiring Ramirez a huge waste no matter the cost. I actually think Mercer is better this year. The argument against that would be a name value argument, and also a lack of trust in Mercer since we’re basing his numbers on less than 200 plate appearances.

I would agree that Rios would be a good upgrade to go after. If the White Sox pick up some salary, then you could be looking at a Wandy Rodriguez type return, with a Grade B hitter and two Grade C pitchers. That wouldn’t be bad for Rios starting in right field for the next year and two months at a reduced cost. I’m not sold Tabata will continue hitting or stay healthy. If he does, then you have a strong bat off the bench, and that’s not a bad thing. So I could see an argument made for Rios.

I can’t see any reason to trade for Ramirez. I don’t think he’s an upgrade now, and I definitely don’t think he’s an upgrade in the future. He’s a name and a contract. If you look past the name, and look at the player, you will see a guy who has a declining bat, a huge salary, and is getting up there in age. That last part only suggests the bat is actually declining and could continue to decline. Adding Ramirez would be a move made only because the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. I think it’s the same grass that the Pirates already have.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/105668650510920614054 Brian Bernard

    Looks like Mike Olt could be part of the Garza package… seems like a throwaway, but I think I’d like to have Olt and the Pirates could offer a better value pitcher with more control like Morton, Kris Johnson, type players – or a Heredia?
    Olt is the kind of power bat we should be stealing from the Cubs – not just a giveaway for a rental.

    • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

      I’m surprised you don’t see more sellers involve a third party to get the kind of prospect they want. For example, Arizona’s insistence on a MLB-ready third baseman really cramped the pool of potential trade partners. The Pirates for one simply didn’t have a player like that. But what we did have was plenty of pitching. In situations like that it seems like it could make sense to send part of AZ’s return to Texas for Olt. (Not that I’m retroactivelt advocating for the Upton trade; it’s just an example of the kind of thing you could- but never DO- see around the deadline.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    Tim you grade Mercer’s defense way higher than I do. We have seen the deficiencies . He doesn’t have good range and he has the tendency to make poor decisions. I don’t ever see Mercer being the SS Ramirez is. Especially because the Pirates have never been sold themselves on Mercer as a SS. He’s played much of his minor league career at 2B behind d’Arnaud. If the Sox would pick up a big chunk of his salary I think he’s worth it . Offensively and defensively. Having two more above 260 averages in the lineup would be huge. Depending on what they have to give up for these guys. Earlier I thought Kingham and Hansen would be a good trade for these two, That might have been a little steep, maybe not. This would improve us defensively,offensively and on the bases play Ramirez at SS and platoon Walker and Mercer. whoever is starting hit’s 2nd. Walker career numbers say he is much better than his numbers this year

    • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

      I think it’s evident that Mercer will never be the caliber defender that Ramirez is. He just missed anm easy grounder up the middle which should have been close to routine and it cost the team 4 runs. He get’s a slow read off the bat he doesn’t have near the range of Ramirez. If he had the upside of Ramirez he wouldn’t have been bounced between 2nd and SS in the minors

  • moose7195

    Yeah but we don’t necessarily need Ramirez to go Puigmania on everyone. With Mercer, the on base percentages are similar, but like you said that’s because of the walks. Common sense still tells me to pick Ramirez because of the batting average. Think about it, with a man in scoring position, who has the better chance of getting a hit to score the run? Ramirez’s role with the bat would be nothing more that a bottom of the order hitter, which is a role I think he could produce in.

  • BostonsCommon

    The more I consider it, the more I think the Pirates should pursue Rios. Clear upgrade in RF, which is easily the elephant in the Pirates Clubhouse. Polanco may force his way up next summer, in which case Rios becomes a desirable rental or an excellent 4th OF, especially compared to the current 4th OF options. However, Polanco certainly isn’t a lock at this point, and Rios gives you protection against that. He makes the club better right now, and puts them in great shape next season to let Polanco develop at his own pace. With Cutch’s salary only rising an additional $2.75M next year, I think the Bucs could even reasonably afford to take the brunt of the Rios contract, should they choose to.

    All that said, PASS on Alexi… The Pirates had solid defensive shortstops with absolutely no bat for the past 23 years. The only difference is, they didn’t have to pay them $10M per year… For your amusement, a list of Bucco SS dating back to 1990.. Jay Bell being the only one that could handle the bat.

    Alfredo Amezaga SS 2005
    Clint Barmes SS 2011-2013
    Jay Bell SS 1989-1996
    Rafael Belliard SS 1982-1990
    Brian Bixler* SS 2006-2010
    Ronny Cedeno* SS 2009-2011
    Lou Collier SS 1997-1998
    Bobby Crosby* SS 2009-2010
    Luis Cruz* SS 2008-2009
    Argenis Diaz* SS 2009-2010
    Shawon Dunston SS 1997
    Kevin Elster SS 1996-1997
    Luis Figueroa* SS 2001
    Josh Harrison* SS 2010-2013 (Present)
    Cesar Izturis* SS 2007
    Don Kelly* SS 2006-2007
    John McDonald* SS 2013
    Jordy Mercer* SS 2009-2013 (Present)
    Kevin Polcovich SS 1997-1998
    Luis Rivas SS 2008
    Dale Sveum SS 1996-1997, 1999-2000
    Ramon Vazquez* SS 2008-2010
    Enrique Wilson SS 2000-2001
    Jack Wilson* SS 2000-2009
    Brandon Wood* SS 2011

    • moose7195

      Don’t you dare try to tell me that Jack Wilson didn’t have his moments with the stick. He hit .300 during 2 or 3 of his seasons as a Pirates everyday SS.

      • BostonsCommon

        Wilson had 8.5 years as the Pirates everyday SS and in his time he managed to put up a line of .269/.311/.376/.687. That .687 OPS is weighted heavily by the only two seasons he registered with an OPS over.700, his All Star year in ’04 (.308/.335/.459/.794) and ’07(.296/.350/.440/.79). Other than that he was a mediocre hitter and a wizard with the glove and great in the community. I’m not bashing him at all. My point is just that the Pirates don’t need to pay a guy $10M to put up a .600 OPS.

        • moose7195

          Then we’re in agreement. I said he had his moments not that he was the next coming of Dick Groat. As for Ramirez, you’re right we don’t need to pay 20M for a SS over the next 2 seasons, but I would certainly be willing to pay Clint Barmes money if the Sox were willing to pick up half his salary in return for a Grade B-/C++ hitter. As for Rios, I feel that the big market teams are going to inflate his value, so why not go after a comparable OF like Alejandro De Aza, whose contract isn’t as big an issue

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        Yeah I second that, Jack Wilson was decent at the plate, didn’t have a lot of power but he got on base. Also, Jay Bell was a pretty good hitting shortstop. BC’s point though is valid, the Pirates have had few quality shortstops in the last 20 years.
        .
        I’m weary on Ramirez, especially if the Pirates have to give up prospects or take on too much salary (which could hurt the Pirates financial flexibility how ever much that may be). Rios might be a good trade target but Ramirez is risky.

  • jollyroger13

    You stole my thunder Moose. de Aza is a right handed bat who is batting .357 with RISP this season. Some speed and power.

    • moose7195

      De Aza is the rare type Lefty that hits LHP better

  • jollyroger13

    His splits aren’t so bad you’d have to platoon him either. What would it take to land him?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

    For what its worth, MLB rumors reported (yesterday I think) that the White Sox have been underwhelmed by the offers they’ve gotten so far for Rios and Ramirez. The Sox may wait until the deadline hoping for better offers.
    .
    Who knows if the Pirates actually made an offer or not, but if they did, it was apparently too low for the White Sox. I say good if that is the case. I’d rather the Pirates miss out on Rios (and Ramirez?) by offering too little than making the trade by offering too much.

    • BostonsCommon

      I’m in the other camp here. If Rios is your guy, go get him.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        History shows that trading prospects for big impact players never works out for the team getting the big impact player. The player has little to no impact on the end result of the season and the loss of the prospects sets the team back several years.
        .
        Trade deadline deals that involve top prospects are a franchise death trap for the team giving up the prospects.
        .
        It would be like if you needed 20$ and I offer to give you 10$ if you stick your foot in a bear trap. Sure you’re 10$ closer to your goal but now your foot is hurt and bleeding and you have to go to a hospital. A few years later you’re still not walking right.

        • BostonsCommon

          Nothing like blanket statements and a little hyperbole to get your Friday evening started.

          Obtaining Rios will not cost “top prospects”. Tim already concluded that his value would cost, “a Grade B hitting prospect and two Grade C pitching prospects, similar to the Wandy Rodriguez deal last year”.

          You missing Grossman or Rudy Owens or Colton Cain right now?

          • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

            Obtaining Rios will not cost “top prospects”.
            .
            I agree with you that a Grade B hitting prospect and two Grade C pitching prospects would be a fair offer. That is something I wouldn’t mind the Pirates doing. Something like Bell, two of Oliver/Pimentel/Dodson/Sampson/Creasy maybe.
            .
            How do we know the Sox don’t want players like Taillon, Polanco, Kingham, Glasnow or Hanson. Those are the top prospects that I’m talking about.
            .
            Would you trade one of those players? If not, then we are on the same page and its not just about going and getting your guy.

          • BostonsCommon

            HA, of course they are going to want Taillon, Polanco, and Kingham, and Glasnow. That doesn’t mean they’re going to get them. That’s the name of the game if your Neil Huntington. Hanson I would consider, just cuz I’m not as high on him, but I would still try to avoid.

            It’s a salary dump for the White Sox. So pick up $12M of the $18M or so remaining on his contract through next year, and get the prospects sorted out. I know the Bucs aren’t the Yanks, but with more than 2M on pace to go through the turnstiles, and home playoff games likely, the revenue will be there to absorb that cost.

            • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

              That was my original point though. If the White Sox expect more than a fair offer then I would rather the Pirates miss out on Rios by offering only a fair offer instead of getting Rios by offering more than a fair deal (Tailon, Polanco, Kingham, Glasnow).

              • BostonsCommon

                A fair deal is the prospects. More than a fair deal is picking up 3/4 of the remaining salary on top of that.

                • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

                  Okay, so if Rios is your guy, and the White Sox want Kingham, then would you make that trade?

          • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

            Agree with most of your post, but LOL at “Tim concluded” that Rios won’t cost top prospects. Yup, the trade valuation tool currently in use by this blog says Rios is worth a C prospect, so you can book it- that’s what he’s gonna cost! C’mon. First, this tool is very much a work in progress. I applaud any and all efforts to make sense of a complicated game, but using the conclusions drawn as FACTS is taking it too far. Today we shake our heads at a time in which stats like BA a W/L were used to evaluate hitters and pitchers. And the next generation will no doubt get a chuckle out of the early attempts to calculate things like prospect trade values. Let’s not act like we’ve solved baseball. Secondly, even if the judgment that “Rios is worth X” was stone cold irrefutable science, that doesn’t mean that the front offices of the Chicago White Sox and their potential trade partners will agree with it. Rios will cost whatever the market will bear, and if the Sox aren’t satisfied with whatever that happens to be then they may just hold. So you’ll pardon fans if they don’t treat the cost of Rios or any other player like its “Case Closed” just because a local blogger logged a helpful and interesting post on the topic.

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

              This tool has been around since 2009. I didn’t develop it, I just use it on the site to give an idea of a player’s value. It’s also as unbiased as you can get. Use the player’s salary, their value, and find the surplus value. Then you match that with the values of prospects.

              I guarantee every major league team uses a system like this. They might have different values for the players, which would impact the numbers. I tend to aim a little high with the WAR numbers to show the max value a player should receive.

  • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

    Ramirez is a small upgrade, but probably not worth the cost, especially in a year or two. Defense peaks early. His best years are behind him. But he’s still a decent starter.

    I say stick with Mercer/Barmes.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

      Ramirez has been significantly better than Mercer over the past 30 days. .331 wOBA compared to .276 from Mercer (.294 is league avg for SS).

  • http://www.smalawgroup.com Esquire

    Rios and Ramirez both have contracts that make a trade difficult to complete when considering their values. Neither is worthy of good prospects (Top 100) and so it would come down to the amount of money we are willing to take on. I can live with Mercer at this point. Tabata can’t be our starting right fielder going into the playoffs.

    I’d rather have Aoki leading off and putting Marte in the 5 spot.
    I’d rather plug in Shierholz on the cheap.

    Most of all, I’d like to see the Pirates acquire a 1st basemen like Morales, Mourneau, or Morse. Then you could give Garrett Jones some spot starts in the outfield.

    • BostonsCommon

      I like the idea of bringing in a lefty to platoon with Gaby and take ABs away from Jones, who’s in the middle of his worst year in his career. But you don’t want to take his unproductive ABs and stick them in RF where there is already a major problem.

      I was in the crowd that thought that was a reasonable option as recent as a few weeks ago, but this just isn’t Garret’s year. .253/.302/.419/.721 hitting almost exclusively against RHP. That’s not good enough for 1B or RF.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DEANO22Ward Dean Frederick Ward

    See now I wouldn’t mind getting Ramirez if were already giving up a bunch and all we have to throw in is something small but don’t give up much for him mercer will do

  • JimBibbySweat

    I’m not really sure I’d pick up the pair for the price of their contracts. After all, the Chi Sox got Rios on a waiver claim several years ago. The only thing I like about Rios is the improved defense he’d offer. He did make the best throw at PNC Park I can recall, nailing a Pirates runner with a rope throw from the right field line when he was with Toronto. Just give me Kendrys Morales, keep the top prospects in the organization, and let’s go…unless, there’s a player the Pirates are targeting whose name isn’t in the trade rumors right now.