The New York Yankees have a strange collection of “just a bunch of guys” manning their infield with Alex Rodriguez‘s season-long suspension in play. The Yankees feel they can compete this season, especially if they convince Masahiro Tanaka to land in New York.
Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez would be a perfect fit to take A-Rod’s place. With the cash the Yankees save because of the suspension, New York has extra money to offer Tanaka and will be able to foot the $16 million bill for Ramirez.
Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he has no interest in dealing Ramirez in part because he says the Brewers don’t have a replacement at third base. If he means they don’t have another player of Ramirez’s caliber, then it’s an accurate statement. However, you don’t necessarily need a player that good if the rest of your lineup is solid (which it is) and your pitching steps up.
If the Yankees came calling, offering to pay most of the $16 million, Melvin has to listen. It’s difficult to gauge what New York would offer up in return, but any type of young power arm would be worth nabbing. One pitcher that stands out as a possibility would be Jose Ramirez.
The hard-throwing left-hander turns 24 on January 21, and Baseball America rates his fastball as the best one in the Yankees’ system. Ramirez played at the double-A and triple-A levels last season, compiling a 3.67 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings. His command has been a problem at times, but that may improve with some more seasoning. This kid could be a potential starter or a back-end bullpen arm — even a closer if he develops well.
The great thing is, he’s not in the Yankees’ top 10 prospects and there are a number of pitchers ahead of him in their system, meaning he’s not untouchable. There’s a chance he may not be available, but that is the type of arm the Brewers should look to get from New York if the Yankees ask about Ramirez.
As far as who would play third for the Crew, there are some options. I still like Taylor Green and think he deserves a shot with the club. This would open the door for him to actually compete for a job. Mark Reynolds could be an option to man the hot corner, at least in a part-time role. His defense is lacking, so limited appearances there would be ideal.
Jeff Bianchi can bring value to the infield as well. He won’t hit for much power, but he’ll offer solid defense and good at-bats hitting eighth. There are also some options in free agency that could be filler or part of a platoon. You wouldn’t get anything stellar over there, but the rest of the lineup should be good enough to pick up the slack. Plus, pitching will determine how good the team ends up anyway.
Finally, shedding that money now creates some breathing room at the All-Star break if the Brewers happen to be contending, or in the offseason when they could make a move or two. I’m not suggesting Milwaukee just dump Ramirez for nothing, but if Melvin can get a viable, younger arm for the near future, it might have to be done.