The Dodgers made a blockbuster pre-trade deadline deal late Tuesday night acquiring infielder Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins. The Dodgers gave up starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, and a minor-league pitcher, Scott McGough, and acquired left-handed reliever Randy Choate as well.
Ramirez was the Rookie of the Year in 2006, and won the NL batting title in 2009. However, he struggled in the 2011 season, and was forced to move from shortstop to third base to make way for Jose Reyes as the Marlins re-branded themselves.
However, it has been a disappointing inaugural season for Miami, they are 45-52, 12.5 games out of first place, and clearly in sell mode. The Marlins began their sale by trading infielder Omar Infante and pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
As Yahoo! Sports Tim Brown reported, the Dodgers new ownership’s willingness to take on salary made them an attractive trade partner, as Ramirez is set to make an average of $15.75 million over the next two plus-seasons. That being said, if Ramirez can regain his ’06-’10 form, it is a great investment for the Dodgers placing a run-producing player, in his prime, into the lineup to backup Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Ramirez is signed through 2014. Colletti also added a veteran left-handed reliever in Choate to a bullpen that currently features only one lefty in Scott Elbert.
So what will Ramirez and Choate bring to the club? According to Tim Brown, Ramirez is expected to play short while Dee Gordon remains sidelined with a torn thumb ligament. Apparently, Ramirez will shift over to third upon Gordon’s return. Ramirez is currently batting .246 with 14 HR and 48 RBI, Hanley is a career .300 hitter. This is a major upgrade at third over Juan Uribe‘s paltry .190 2 HR and 17 RBI. As Brown reported, the Dodgers are hoping a change of scenery and the Blue Crew being the fun, enthusiastic group they are, will re-invigorate Ramirez. Hanley automatically ties Matt Kemp for the team lead in home runs. The Dodgers have hit the fewest home runs in the National League, and are second to last in slugging percentage.
Randy Choate is a consistent and reliable left-handed reliever. Choate currently has a 2.49 ERA in 44 games for the Marlins this year. He has struck out 27 and walked only nine in 25 1/3 innings of work. Left-handers are batting only .150 off of Choate. The addition of Choate should provide Don Mattingly far more flexibility in late game situations when looking to get out tough left handed batters. Choate’s contract expires at the end of the season.
The Dodgers gave up Nathan Eovaldi, a promising, 22-year old pitcher who was fairly effective in two stints with the Dodgers this year and last. However, Eovaldi was expendable. Ted Lilly appears close to returning after throwing a 60-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, and should the Dodgers need reinforcements, it appears they would call upon Stephen Fife again.
Zach Lee, L.A.’s top draft pick from 2010, is also progressing through the minors nicely, getting promoted to Double A-Chattanooga in June.
The Dodgers addressed two pressing needs, bolstering the offense, and presumably upgrading at third base, while adding left-handed bullpen help. The trade deadline is Tuesday, but the Dodgers have already made the biggest move of the year so far, there could be more to come.