When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Cody Ross to a 3 year, $26M deal, their outfield got a bit more crowded. Now they look to move someone via trade, and the rumor mill says it’s likely to be former AL Central resident, Jason Kubel. The Diamondbacks have also reached out to inquire about Alexei Ramirez, despite having recently acquired Didi Gregorius from the Reds in a three team deal that included the Indians. Whether or not they are confident in Gregorius being able to handle the role of full time SS isn’t really our problem. But it would seem that they’re not, if inquiries are still being made about Alexei. The question is, can the White Sox afford to part with Alexei Ramirez yet?
Alexei’s best offensive season came in 2008, his rookie season, in which he mostly served as the team’s second baseman. It did take awhile for Ozzie to figure out where to put him, allowing Ramirez to spend a few games looking confused in center field. Since then we’ve watched his offensive value decline, but it was tempered with a move to SS, and a highly regarded one defensively. Another season of decline for the slim Cuban and his value will be next to non-existent at 32 years old. This could be the last chance to get any return for a player signed through 2015 (with a $10M 2016 team option). An Alexei-less 2013 season has other repercussions though. Mainly, there is would then be nobody to play the position. There is no organizational depth there, nobody waiting in the wings to step in and seamlessly take over. Whatever return gotten for Alexei would be a folding of 2013’s hand, a look towards the future.
Would it make any sense to give up on 2013 while bringing Jason Kubel in for 1, maybe two seasons when he plays a position in which the team has no obvious gap? While his 2012 stats would be an improvement over Dayan Viciedo‘s, Dayan still has a way to go, we hope. He’s not a clear improvement over any of the team’s OF options. However there is another player that the Diamondbacks have continuously dangled for trade, you may have heard of him: Justin Upton. Upton, though more expensive at $9.75 in 2013 is also signed through 2015 at just over $14M each year. He’s also a better player than Kubel right now, 5 years younger, and has a ridiculous high upside. It’s unlikely that Arizona considers themselves desperate enough for middle infield help that they’d part with Upton, but it makes even less sense for the Sox to part with Alexei just for Kubel. Bits and pieces added from each side could make either trade more manageable, but the White Sox would do well to hold on to Alexei for the season unless a trade they can’t refuse comes along. Justin Upton is a trade they can’t refuse.