Yesterday morning, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost their first free agent as veteran utility infielder Nick Punto signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Athletics. Acquired in the blockbuster with the Boston Red Sox two summers ago, Punto was a reliable glove at either second, short or third base and without him, the Dodgers infield could be changing.
The signing of Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero made Mark Ellis expendable, but with Juan Uribe, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr all free agents, the Dodgers need another infielder. According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, the Dodgers could be shifting pieces around to acquire one via trade:
The Dodgers are not expected to bid on second baseman Robinson Cano, but with free agency thin at third base, they will consider moving Ramirez to third base (probably paired with a contract extension) and acquiring a shortstop in a trade. Stephen Drew is considered the best free-agent shortstop available.
First, Drew received a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, meaning the Dodgers would have to give up their first-round pick if they signed him. While that seems somewhat unlikely, moving Ramirez to third base has been a hot topic this winter as the 29-year-old is seeing his range at shortstop diminish.
The Dodgers do have interest in bringing back Uribe on a low-term deal, but after his revival in 2013, he could be looking to cash-in elsewhere. In that case, the Dodgers could sign a stop-gap player to take Uribe’s place since the plan seems to be having Corey Seager take over third base duties, granted he isn’t traded over the winter.
There’s always that possibility the Dodgers try and trade for Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who will be a free agent in 2015 and isn’t having active talks with the Padres about a contract extension. Inner-division trades are always difficult, but there could be a fit between the two Southern California rivals.
Regardless, it looks like the Dodgers are at least open to moving Ramirez to third and acquiring a shortstop, but his response to the idea will ultimately decide what management does.
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