The Pirates are nearing a deal for Aramis Ramirez, according to Craig Calcaterra and Bill Brink on Twitter.

Ramirez isn’t having a great year on offense, with a .247/.295/.430 line in 302 at-bats. He is having a great year defensively, which gives him a 1.2 WAR on the season. The interesting thing is that his triple slash line is better than what Pedro Alvarez is putting up, which is currently a .231/.299/.414 line in 304 plate appearances. So Ramirez is basically Alvarez this year at the plate, but with much better defense at a more valuable position.

Ramirez is owed $14 M this year, although $6 M is deferred, and I’m not sure that the Pirates would be responsible for that. If Milwaukee is responsible for that, then the Pirates would be taking on about $3.2 M, assuming no money is coming over in the deal. It’s hard to analyze the deal without knowing that information.

As for how Ramirez can help the Pirates, the obvious thing is that he upgrades the team in the short-term. In the long-term, he could free up Josh Harrison to a utility role.

UPDATE 5:31 PM: The Pirates have announced the deal as Ramirez and cash considerations for Yhonathan Barrios. I’ll give my thoughts shortly.

UPDATE 5:37 PM: We rated Barrios as the 49th best prospect in the system. He’s a hard throwing reliever who sits mid-90s and routinely hits 99 MPH. The only downside is that he doesn’t have an out pitch, which is why his strikeouts have been so low. He throws a slider, but the pitch hasn’t fully developed. Part of that is due to the fact that Barrios was a position player until the 2013 season. He received one of the biggest bonuses out of Latin America at the time by the Pirates, but couldn’t develop his power, despite being touted as a power hitting middle infielder. His one tool that developed was his arm, and that immediately translated over to the mound.

There’s a chance Barrios could develop a good out pitch, which would give him the upside of a late inning reliever in the majors. But the Pirates have so many of those types of hard throwers, that trading one away isn’t going to make a difference, especially when it means you get an upgrade in an area of need.

A fun fact: Ramirez was traded away by the Pirates 12 years ago today.

Ken Rosenthal says the Pirates are only taking on $3 M in salary.

UPDATE 5:55 PM: Steve Lombardozzi has been designated for assignment to clear room for Ramirez on the 40-man roster. The Pirates will make a move to add Ramirez to the 25-man roster when he arrives with the team. I’ve updated the 40-man payroll page. The Pirates are now at $95.3 M after this move.

UPDATE 6:11 PM: Some final thoughts on the deal. I don’t think the Pirates gave up anything significant here. They filled an immediate area of need for money, and that was something they could definitely afford to spend. Ramirez had a horrible month of April (.593 OPS), was good in May (.793), slumped a bit in June (.642), and has been on fire this month (.922). In his career, he has been fantastic down the stretch, with an .873 OPS after the All-Star break.

He didn’t really have that trend last year, performing well in August, with a .961 OPS, but struggling with a .541 OPS in July and a .551 OPS in September. He did finish strong in 2013, with an .875 OPS in August, and .952 in September.

You could look at his current season in one of two ways. Either he’s following his career trend, just starting to heat up, and will be a nice bat for the Pirates down the stretch. Or he’s having an up and down year, is currently in a hot stretch, but could very well go into a slump, just as he’s done the last two years. If it’s the former, then the Pirates just got a steal. If it’s the latter, then you’d hope the hot streak will continue long enough for Harrison to return, while Ramirez provides a big upgrade for the Pirates in the mean time.

UPDATE 6:32 PM: Looks like Ramirez will join the Pirates on Saturday.

UPDATE 8:39 PM: Neal Huntington met with the media at PNC Park to discuss the trade, and our own Pete Ellis has the transcript:

Huntington on the trade:

“Felt like he was a good addition to our club, can come in and stabilize third base for us for a while. We like what he’s done offensively. He’s got a great career track record and has swung the bat and has been a very effective Major League hitter for his career. But also for the last six weeks, eight weeks, he’s been swinging the bat very well after a tough start.”

How long it took for trade to come together:

“The trade deadline process starts probably way before most people realize in terms of conversations of who might be available, what might be the acquisition cost. The injuries to Jordy and to Josh helped clarify some things. I think for most everyone. Our goal going into every trade deadline is to just find ways to make the club better, and with the two injuries it became a little bit easier to make the club better at least on paper. We feel fortunate we were able to do that in our minds, in the real world.”

The impact of the Mercer/Harrison injuries on the acquisition:

“The fact that we’ve got two players that are probably out for a large chunk of time is what really pushed us into action here. We were fine losing one, when we lost a second it made it a challenge. Both guys are on track to be back and be healthy. The challenge is we have a lot of baseball games to be played between now and when the first one is supposed to be back. We wanted to continue to put this team into position to compete for the playoffs and to compete for a World Series championship. If and when we have too many good players, that will be a great thing for us.”

About Ramirez being a proven run producer:

“We felt that this was a legitimate major league bat that would come in here and where ever Clint wants to put him in the lineup, he can do some damage for us, be a threat and provide some protection. That was important for us as we were looking how to prioritize the position attributes that we were looking for. The fact that he is a proven major league hitter and the fact that he is swinging the bat well now, both of those things played a part of it.”

When will he join the team:

“In conversations with him, the Brewers are in Arizona. He’s going from Arizona to Milwaukee, hopefully tomorrow, and looking to join us on Saturday.”

Ability to play in the shift:

“We’ll work through each guys strengths. It was one of the beautiful parts about Jordy and Josh and Kang with the flexibility and versatility they can basically go anywhere. Again, Clint and Nick will work through with Aramis what he’s comfortable with and what he isn’t, and they’ll do a great job putting him in a position to be successful.”

Need for more moves:

“Well we always will feel that. We like our club. If we can add to it we’ll absolutely continue to work to add to it. But there is a pretty solid foundation here. If there are other moves out there that present themselves, as we continue to do our work, as we continue to have our conversations that makes sense for us, then we’ll move forward.”

Importance to make a deal as quickly as possible:

“It’s a two-way street, and it’s not a unilateral move. We can’t just pick up the phone and say hey we want your guy, they’ve got to be willing to do so. The fact that Milwaukee was willing to move because we sent them a player that they like. We gave up a really good young arm that has velocity, that has the makings of off speed pitches that hasn’t been pitching all that long. Milwaukee did a really nice job. They’ve got a guy who has some ceiling and when we met their asks, the deal came together.”

Taking on salary no issue?:

“For the fourth consecutive season, because of the shared vision of Bob and Frank and our baseball ops group, we’ve had an opportunity to make additions to the club and we were able to do so again this year. Again, we’ll continue to work to see what else might help us.”

Still more flexibility despite this move?

“Again, it’s a nice addition, and we will continue to work through that process.”

Sense that the clubhouse was waiting for some reinforcements:

“If I were in their shoes I probably would. These guys have fought hard, they’ve worked hard. They’ve done some great things. I can’t speak for them, but if I were in their shoes I would’ve been looking to see if we responded, absolutely.”

Aramis’ plans on retirement:

“Not a conversation I’ve had with him, and really not something that was on the top of our concern list or focus list. Our thought is we got a player that’s motivated to come in here and help a club win. Loves to win, wants to win, and is excited to be joining what he feels is a very good team with a chance to win.”

Positional flexibility:

“Again, our focus right now is to get him in here and help us stabilize third base. Kang will be our primary shortstop. Clint will have some versatility and flexibility and when Josh and Jordy get back we’ll start to worry about that a little bit ahead of time, but now our goal is to come in and bring a really good player in here to help us stabilize and swing the bat. Play a position right now that is not as good as Aramis Ramirez will be there in our minds, and again as I said earlier, when we get to a point where we have too many good players, that’s actually a really good thing for our organization.”

Where the market is currently:

“This is the eighth time I’ve been through it in this role, and twenty-something times I’ve been through it overall. There seems to be some early movement, and then there’s a stagnant period, then right at the deadline there’s another flux of movement. The conversations we’ve been having, there’s been a lot that want to hold until the deadline, hoping that they’ll get somebody that’s desperate and be willing to overpay. As I said on TV maybe somebody feels we overpaid. I think you’ll see a few moves, but then I think most moves will come back closer to the deadline is at least what history tells us.”

Does he believe the club is in position to overpay:

“The challenge with that is no move guarantees you a World Series win. The best team doesn’t always win in October. In fact, typically it’s the hottest and healthiest team. Those are some things that are hard for us to control. Our goal as an organization is to win a World Series this year. Our goal as an organization is to be in a position to play meaningful games in September and playoff baseball in October as many years as we possibly can, as consistently as we possibly can. There’s very divergent goals, but yet at the same time we think they are aligned. We have to continue to make good sound decisions to put ourselves in position to win this year, but also keep in mind that our goal is to win again next year and to be in position to win as many years in the future as we can.”

Trade within the division:

“That seems to be a really hot button topic, and for us when we were on the selling side, we didn’t mind helping a division rival for the short-term if we were going to have a player that we thought was coming in to help us for the long-term. It is hard. It is hard to sit here and think that Yhonathan Barrios might come out and close games against us in five years and we’re going to have to live with that. But if we feel good about the move we made now, that’s the trade-off, and that’s the risk, and we were willing to take that. Again, we feel Aramis Ramirez helps us continue to be a playoff caliber team and we recognize you have to give up something to get something, and Barrios is a really good arm that will probably help the Brewers for years to come well after Ramirez has moved on. But that’s part of the buying and selling at the trade deadline is, you run that risk, and you have to be comfortable with that risk and make the moves that you think are the right things for the organization. In our minds regardless of in the division or out of it.”

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48 COMMENTS

    • Fangraphs has him at 1.2, because of defense. He better hit, because he is very bad on the bases, and below average in the field. I hope that the supposed improvement over the last six weeks doesn’t end up like Morneau’s supposed mechanical adjustment, his hitting line was similar to Polanco’s going into the all-star break.

      • I want to issue a formal protest to Fangraphs defensive ratings for A-Ram. He has never been a great defender. Why would he start being one at 37?

  1. Full circle for ramirez, welcome back to the burgh for one last ride on the jolly rodger express aramis. Now let’s see about gettin a winner,winner chicken dinner by plucking some high flying birds.

    • I remember when we were forced to trade him because of money…loan covenant default. Never happen nowadays thanks to Nutting, Jr. NH just said in an interview that Ramirez is really excited to be coming here. Looks like at least two teams are willing to take prospects. Keep going Neil!

  2. Really good move by NH I think. Should solidify 3B for a month, or maybe the whole season if he gets hot. And he’ll be a great bat on the bench in Sept/Oct if not.

  3. Also has good history within this division which is important. Really hope we aren’t don’t yet though. If we can deal with them for Ramirez…we can deal with them for Lind.

  4. Love the move. Basically a free third baseman/bench upgrade once Mrcer and Harrison get back.

    • No, Bobby Hill is busy coaching Little League baseball in Santa Clara, CA. He was introduced at the closing ceremonies this year where my son played.

  5. He is certainly better than what the Pirates are penciling into the lineup, more sentimental than impactful.

  6. Good move, potential to be great if he can/will learn 1B in the 6 weeks he will be needed at third. At the least is a big upgrade over SRod and/or Hart as the platoon 1B, could be an upgrade full-time.

    • He’s appreciably better against LHP than RHP over his career (.894 OPS vs LHP), wouldn’t read a ton into this year’s small sample size vs LHP.

        • You shouldn’t. It’s 53 AB’s vs LHP- which is almost meaningless – and he has been incredibly unlucky on BABIP. Looking behind the numbers, it looks like he still hits LHP better than RHP.

  7. Not a big fan of this deal. I think Ramirez days as a productive hitter have passed. Hoping the chase for a ring will spark a renaissance in his bat. I’m sure Pirates hope so, too.

    Wonder if he can play 1B when Harrison returns?

    • No. Heheh. Have we learned nothing from Pedro? Aram 0 career games at 1B. Jay-Hay gonna play RF when a lefty is on the hill I’m sure

    • I wish the article would have said that…if you take away his April you get a .270+bat with 10 Homers and a decent OPS

  8. Although Barrios is a promising young reliever, to get Ramirez and salary relief for Barrios is a pretty good deal IMHO for the Pirates. That seems like an appropriate price. Ramirez can only help…now that he is in a pennant race, he may be rejuvenated…lets hope so.

  9. The TRADE is for Yhonathan Barrios and CASH.

    Not bad. I’ve gotta say I was not a huge fan of trading for Ramirez because I did not think it solved much. It did not give us huge improvement offensively and defensively he’s not very good any more. But he does have value as a veteran bat who might have a little left in the tank and we gave up VERY, VERY little in return.

  10. Excellent … Much better bat than we have playing the left side now, except for Kang … maybe he can play first after JHay and mercer return?

  11. I like the idea of getting Ramirez – suggested the possibility a couple of weeks ago. But, until I see what is going back, I will reserve final judgment. Also, who is on the hook for the rest of his 2015 $14M salary?

  12. Obviously it depends on what we give up, but this sounds like a good move. I wonder if he can play 1B — he hasn’t before — because he would be a nice right-handed platoon mate with Alvarez (assuming he stays).

    • ARam is a -6 at 3b DRS this year. For reference, Pedro was a -5 at 3b in 2014.

      I can’t imagine what a disaster ARam would be if they tried to put him at 1b.

  13. I suppose it would be nice for Ramirez to finish his career where he started – and should have stayed a lot longer. I hope he still has something left in his bat.

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