Atlanta Braves Hypothetical Trades: José Ramírez

While everyone is talking about one Indians player, Francisco Lindor, I have my eyes on another: José Ramírez. The 28-year old slugger has been an MVP finalist 3 of the last 4 seasons, but hasn’t been able to take home the hardware. The Indians have stated that they’re going to be cutting payroll, the question is how far do they want to go.

They’re all but resigned to the fact that they will have to trade Lindor this offseason because they can’t afford to sign him long term. The rumor is they’re seeking 3 players with at least 2 of them being major leaguers of close to their debut. If we extrapolate that return for 1 year of Lindor to 3 years of Ramírez it would likely take about 6 players that are in the majors or close to major league ready. I’ll go into my hypothetical trade a little further down, but I want to start out by detailing the Indians situation and going over who the Braves would be getting in José Ramírez.

Why would the Indians trade Ramírez?

The Indians were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs with their two superstar players intact. As an outside observer, I don’t see how they could expect different results after losing Lindor. On top of that they’ll likely also lose 1B/DH Carlos Santana who quietly had a pretty decent season with a .349 OBP. Depending on the pieces the Indians get back for Lindor, they’re going to have a very young inexperienced team and a lineup that’s held together by popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue. Obviously with the rotation they have they certainly have a shot to compete, but if they’re in for another first round exit then why would they not at least entertain trading both of their big assets and get ready to be an American League juggernaut for 2022-2025 or even longer.

Who is Ramírez?

Ramírez was on pace for about 8 WAR this season, after a bit of a down 2019 where he only had 3 WAR. He also had 6.4 and 7.5 WAR in 2017 and 2018, respectively. He’s been an MVP finalist 3 of the last 4 seasons and it doesn’t get much better than that. He’s elite in every facet of the game; he hits for average and for power, he has a K% and whiff% among the best in the league, he’s a threat on the base paths, and he’s a stellar defender. If you can get this guy on your team, you do it.

Indians Payroll Situation

The Indians payroll currently sits around $57M with arb estimates built in. Once they remove Lindor’s $20M they’ll move to lowest payroll in the league, behind the Marlins by about $10M. But why stop there? Ramírez will make $9M in 21 and then has club options of $12M and $14M for 22 and 23, respectively. The only other high cost Indian is Carlos Carrasco, who will make $12M each in 21 and 22 and then has a vesting option for 23 at $14M. This vesting option only hits if Carrasco pitches 170+ innings in 22, making it a pretty safe bet that you’re only on the hook for that money if Carrasco is good anyways. If it does vest and you want to spend that money elsewhere, it also has a $3M buy out.

Removing Lindor, Ramírez and Carrasco from the payroll would leave them at a $16M payroll before filling out the remaining 19 spots with guys making league minimum or any free agent they decide to bring in. Nobody knows what number they’re aiming for, but if Lindor’s $20M isn’t enough they may as well just go all the way and remove the only 3 big dollar amounts they have.

Who is Carrasco?

Carlos Carrasco has been an above average starter his entire career. After beating cancer, he returned and dominated with a 2.91 ERA in his 68 IP and was on pace for roughly a 4 WAR season. In his career he strikes out almost 10 batters per 9 innings while only walking 2. He was worth over 5 WAR in both 2017 and 2018, before ending 2019 early due to the leukemia. Carrasco is an experience veteran and a clubhouse leader, both of which the Braves are looking for in their rotation. Carrasco is the kind of pitcher that will give you 6-7 strong innings every time out and hand the ball to the bullpen with a shot to win the game.

Indians Farm System Overview

The Indians have a pretty good farm system, but they do not have a lot of guys ready to join their MLB team with most of their top prospects expected to arrive around 2022-2023. Third baseman and top prospect Nolan Jones, #42 on MLB pipeline’s latest top 100, is ready to debut. He could certainly replace Ramírez if the Indians decide to move him. They also like 21 year old SS Tyler Freeman, who could replace Lindor, but he only reached A+ in 2019 so he’s likely still a year or two away. First baseman Bobby Bradley is MLB ready and should takeover for Santana in 2021. Other than those three they also have Bo Naylor, a very good catching prospect, and a bunch of middle infielders and pitchers that are all due around 2023-24.

Indians Big League Depth Chart

The Indians rotation is rock solid with Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale, Carrasco, Triston McKenzie, and Adam Plutko. They also think Logan Allen has potential as a starter. This makes Carrasco expendable. Their bullpen is strong with a breakout season from rookie James Karinchak, who likely takes the closing role now that Brad Hand is gone. Emmanuel Clase, Nick Wittgren and Adam Cimber are all solid options for them at the back end of the pen.

The position players is where the team gets a little messy. First base will likely be taken over by the aforementioned Bradley, but Jake Bauers is another option there. They don’t really have a good second base option, I could see them moving Ramírez (if he’s not traded) back to second if they call up Nolan Jones for third. Shortstop could be manned by prospect Yu Chang, otherwise they’ll likely try to get a young MLB SS in the Lindor trade. Franmil Reyes is the one sure thing, he will be their DH and he is the best hitter in this lineup without Ramírez and Lindor.

In the outfield they have a box of misfit toys. Josh Naylor showed up big in the postseason, but hasn’t done much thus far in his career. Oscar Mercado, Jordan Luplow and Tyler Naquin all had great 2019 seasons, but were helpless in 2020. Delino Deshields is decent, but he won’t be much better than league average.

Hypothetical Trade

Now that you’ve made it this far, let’s propose a hypothetical deal with the Braves.

Ramírez and Carrasco for Austin Riley, Drew Waters, Ender Inciarte, Greyson Jenista, Tucker Davidson, Alex Jackson, Patrick Weigel, Touki Toussaint, and Sean Newcomb

This package is a King’s ransom. If the Braves want to acquire Ramírez and Carrasco, this is what it will take. Riley can immediately take over at third base, or they can move him to left field or first base if they call up Nolan Jones. Waters is as close to MLB ready as you can get and could be ready to man centerfield for the Indians by May-June. Jenista is also close to the majors and offers them a strong AAA outfielder with potential. Davidson, Weigel, Touki and Newcomb are all MLB pitchers. Jackson offers the Indians some flexibility, Austin Hedges and Roberto Perez are both free agents after the 2022 season, but Jackson could be a cheaper replacement for Hedges if he is non-tendered. Davidson could join the Indians rotation in Carrasco’s spot and the other 3 could go to the MLB bullpen. The Indians have a strong track record of developing pitching and these 4 still have a lot of potential. Ender is just there to offset some of the payroll, but the Indians can likely find something to do with him on their active roster. This move saves the Indians roughly $55M over the next 3 years which they could use to extend guys like Bieber and Reyes, while retooling the MLB roster and gaining some high potential pieces. If it would take even more than this, my guess as to some guys that could garner interest would be Bryce Ball, Riley Unroe, Mahki Backstrom or Terone Harris.

Braves Roster Breakdown

After this trade, the Braves add Carrasco’s $12M salary, but Ender and Riley balance out with Ramírez’s $9M. The Braves rotation becomes Soroka, Fried, Anderson, Carrasco, Wright. A hypothetical lineup, with years controlled, would be Acuna (8), Freeman (1, but will likely get extended), Ramírez (3), d’Arnaud (1), Albies (7), Swanson (3), Duvall (2), Camargo (3), Pache (6). I slotted Camargo in as the DH here, but I’m sure the Braves would bring somebody in to man this position. Most Braves writers estimate the Braves will spend about $40M this offseason, so they could still afford Ozuna at ~$20M per season if they wanted to and make some smaller moves like Flowers, Melancon or Pederson.

Conclusion

While the cost would be hefty, if you can trade for 3 years of an MVP caliber player you have to do it. If the Braves make this trade and still bring in someone of Ozuna’s caliber, that puts them ahead of the Dodgers in my eyes. This would be a complete roster from top to bottom and gives you at least 3 years with a very good shot to win it all. I’ll leave you with some nice Ramírez highlights to watch below. Go Braves!

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

47 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Hypothetical Trades: José Ramírez”

  1. More to the point, it would take a TON to get Jose Ramirez and Carlos Carrasco. However 40-man considerations have to be taken into account when doing something like this. This move would require the Indians to open 5 40-man spots.

  2. Hammers shirts sent this AM to tfloyd and coop. I’ll be sending out another batch this Friday for anyone wanting to make an order.

  3. Thank you, kind sirs. The trade looks good to me, Matt, but I don’t get a vote.

    Ryan, I will Hammer with pride. Thank you.

  4. I figured I’d link this here, as the trade value simulator thinks waters/riley for ramirez/carrasco would be about even. But we know it would take more than that, certainly.

  5. @1

    As things currently stand the Indians have 5 open spots on their 40-man, and the trade would open up 2 more. Their 3rd catcher is also a pretty obvious DFA candidate, as Jackson is an upgrade to him. :)

  6. For me, this trade comes down to the 2 for the Indians and top 2 for the Braves then the parts are interchangeable. Subtract Ender from this deal and it simplifies things. Add Wright to this deal and you can likely add 2 fliers and it be a 2 for 5 deal.

  7. OMG, Smyly??? $11M???? MLBTR had him at one year/$5M. Are we gonna pay someone twice what they’re worth? Ozuna would be a better value for twice what he’s worth.

    Even if he provides $11M worth of value, it’s still not a good “deal”. There is no upside except to make par.

  8. Smyly had a 2.01 FIP and a 14.35 K/9 in his short 2020 season. Lefties were 3-36 against him. Braves obviously buying into the results. He was a good pitcher before TJ surgery so I think it’s a good signing, but $11M seems a tad high.

  9. How much would Charlie Morton have cost if Drew Smyly cost $11M?

    And why did Drew Smyly cost $11M when everyone — literally everyone — in the baseball media is saying that teams will be penny-pinching.

    I’m confusion.

  10. More I think about it, it does make sense. Because when I look at 31-year olds who have never made 30 starts but had 26.2 good innings the year before, I think, “We should definitely pay above market for that.”

    Every. Time.

  11. @16 It’s sarcasm, right?

    The only time Smyly made 30 starts, he blew his arm out. I’m just hoping they weren’t comparing Smyly to Hamels and feel like they’re “only” wasting $11M this time vs. $18M. And he spent a bunch of last year on the IL.

  12. Honestly, it really seems like it’s in the bylaws that Atlanta has to devote a significant portion of its payroll to starting pitchers who provide little, no, or negative value. Bartolo, Keuchel, Hamels, etc. Smyly is simply the 2021 participant.

  13. My brain autocorrected 11 million to 1 million. Sure looks like BJ is frowning about the signing…

    Smyly could be the first Brave with an emoji for a nickname. Whether :) or :( depends on level of play.

  14. Fangraphs projects his WAR to be 1.8, but this is all so dependent on how many starts he makes. They clearly have to know something about his health that we don’t.

  15. Smyly has made general managers salivate for years. Lefty with tantalizing potential.

    Anthopoulos certainly has had a good track record with spending money to buy into recent results, though it’s fair to say he’s done better with free agent hitters than free agent pitchers.

    But anything that suggests that Mother Liberty might be willing to open her pursestrings this winter strikes me as damn fine news. Now let’s go get Springer!

  16. Also, Rob, I think that’s slightly unfair to Keuchel. He was roughly league-average in about a half-season of work. We were paying him to be above-average, but he definitely contributed to the team and we badly needed those innings eaten.

  17. Why do I want to compare Drew Smyly to a left handed Len Barker? Hopefully they put in a very special ligament when he had Tommy John surgery.

  18. Smyly had a fairly large uptick in velo in 2020 which caused HUGE K-rates (14.35 K/9) while maintaining a respectful walk rate (3.08/9). This smells like a Driveline visit but I cannot be sure. Braves are definitely taking a gamble on something with Smyly.

    Still, $11MM seems like a lot.

  19. I read all of the words but just to clarify we are just suggesting that the 2 teams with Native American names basically just swap rosters?

  20. @24 You’re right. Keuchel provided 2 bWAR in just that half-season for $13M. A good deal for Atlanta, indeed.

  21. For $11M, Smyly would only have to give you 20 good starts to be worth the deal and then some. It would be one heck of a career resurgence for him to even do that, which is fueling the negativity. But I don’t think there’s much of a concern that he’ll be effective, if healthy. So if you’re going to sign a pitcher who will be good on the mound if he indeed gets to the mound with regularity, might as well pay $11M for that instead of $18M (Hamels), I guess.

    So our rotation now is Soroka, Fried, Anderson, Smyly, and Wright. If healthy, not bad at all.

    I’m on the Springer train, too. 3 OFs with more than a casual relationship with playing CF is about as exciting as it gets. Springer’s not a CF anymore according to the defensive metrics, it seems, but he’d play a darn good LF.

  22. I will theorize here on Smyly. I emphasize THEORIZE. They got unexpectedly burnt on Hamels and Milone. SMyly is one year at $11M and leaves money available. Also SOroka will not be available in APril. We are talking an injury that can take 8-10 months as we have seen in the NBA. Also, we are still working on getting Freddie signed and the prospect of Ozuna signed. I also bring that really huge elephant to the table known as the basic agreement which expires at the end of the 2021 season. What conditions will be imposed after the losses suffered? We simply don’t know what will happen going into spring training. I am not sure about the Smyly signing. I am not Smyling right now. I say it is wait and see and a little praying.

  23. I don’t expect Braves to sign any other big names starting pitchers but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a “King Felix” prove it type of deal with another SP.

    Biggest takeaway about the Smyly signing for me is that it seems our Braves have some $.

  24. 1) We actually spent money. That’s a positive sign, as far as I’m concerned.

    2) Smyly is way better than just rolling with our pitching staff as is…and I don’t think a lot of you seem to get that. A rotation featuring both Wright and Wilson next year (outside of whatever time it takes to get Soroka to game shape early in the season) is not good enough…at all. Now we won’t have one.

    Would Smyly have been my first choice? No. But I’m not sure I understand crapping on it to the degree that’s currently being done. He’s better than Jon Lester/Cole Hamels/Felix Hernandez.

  25. MLBTR is now reporting Smyly was reaching for the stars and seeking 3/30. If there was any possibility of coming close to that then 1/11 is not so bad.

    @39 We all wanted someone who might more reliably provide value. If Smyly ends up with 5-10 starts or less then it’s a full on bust. We all see that the upside to the signing is as an average innings eater. He could be the second coming of Anibal Sanchez but Anibal cost a heckuva lot less. There is more “upside” to be found in a cheap King Felix signing.

    That being said, AA has a pretty good record with these one year make good contracts with only Hamels a failure in a weird year anyway. And Hamels’ track record had the least suggestion of possibly bust-ness. Ozuna is different from Donaldson (injury) or Sanchez (age and past performance) in that there is no reason for him to decline going forward. And Hamels was really already in decline. Smyly is young enough to be consistently good, but his past results indicate a high risk of injury. If he does make 30 starts then this contract will be an enormous success.

  26. I would also like thirty million dollars over the next three years, so we have that in common.

  27. DOB digs in on the Smyly deal: https://theathletic.com/2202149/2020/11/16/drew-smyly-atlanta-braves-mlb-free-agency/

    AA’s official line is, basically, “We were 100% right about d’Arnaud. You can trust us on this guy.” And it’s about the best argument they can make.

    What I hadn’t quite realized is that Smyly’s an SEC boy, born in Georgia and raised in Arkansas, where he went to high school and college. (He was a rotationmate of Dallas Keuchel on the Razorback squad.) So I’d bet the Braves crosscheckers have been on him for a long time. That may help in terms of their confidence in the trends picking up, as they clearly believe his improved performance last year was not a blip but turning a corner.

  28. First reaction – that’s an overpay

    Considered reaction – that’s an overpay, unless the $11m is incentive driven

    Whatever your opinion, it’s still notable that the Braves are continuing the trend of getting their business done early. I can’t say I’d be confident about the overall loosening of purse strings for the balance of the winter months

  29. I think we should have tried to find a starter who will give us 25-30 starts. That’s what we didn’t have this year. Maybe Smyly can, but history says he won’t

  30. The projected trade package would make me feel better without Drew Waters in it! Put another player in it and go for it! I just want to see he along with Accuna and Pache in our outfield together at some point.

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