I, like many other Brewers fans, have become somewhat preoccupied of late with trades the Brewers may or may not make this season. We’re now just 14 days way from the non-waiver trade deadline. Unfortunately, with the exception of Gerardo Parra, the players most easily parted with — those that become free agents at season’s end — have performed poorly and have correspondingly tanked their trade value. Kyle Lohse and Jonathan Broxton seem unmovable, or at least not for anything useful. Until recently, the same applied to Aramis Ramirez.
I won’t attempt to convince you that Ramirez is secretly having a very good season. He is not. However, his season slash line of .234/.279/.414 obscures his recent production which has been a good deal better.
From the start of the season through June 11, Ramirez was hitting .211/.253/.380 with a 4.4 percent walk rate, 16.5 percent strikeout rate, .170 ISO, and .215 BABIP. In the last 30 days of play (June 12 to July 12), Ramirez has slashed .278/.327/.478 with a 6.1 percent walk rate, 11.2 percent strikeout rate, .200 ISO, and .286 BABIP. This is encouraging.
Aramis Ramirez’s career line looks like this: .284/.342/.494, 7.0 percent walk rate, 13.8 percent strikeout rate, .210 ISO, .291 BABIP. His production over the last 30 days of play is much closer to his career numbers than the first two months. However, we are now dealing with small sample sizes and arbitrary end points — on both sides of the coin.
We cannot assume because Ramirez has performed well more recently that he will continue doing so. It would also be improper to weight 98 plate appearances (June 12 to July 12) more heavily than his first 182. But Ramirez does have a tendency to perform better in the second half of the season. Over his career in the first half of the season, he’s hit .277/.336/.474, while in the second half, he has historically hit .298/.357/.535. I have no explanation for why this has happened, but I will allow it to fuel my hope for him.
It seems unlikely the Brewers will be able to trade Ramirez by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. He has performed close to his career average in the last 30 days, but that doesn’t erase what he did prior to June 12. Teams are smart and are unlikely to be fooled by small-sample-size numbers.
However, there still can be trades made in August, which is the waiver trade period.
Trades work slightly different in August than before the regular trade deadline. Teams must put players on waivers, during which time all 29 other clubs have a chance to claim the player in question. If a team does claim that player then the original team can do one of three things. First, they can negotiate a trade with the claiming team and only that team. Second, they can simply let that team have the player (and his salary). Finally, they can pull that player back off waivers. If that player passes through waivers unclaimed, then his team may negotiate with the 29 teams like normal.
Aramis Ramirez is exactly the type of player that should be expected to pass through waivers unclaimed. He got off to a terrible start and his salary this year is $14 million. While any team that were to claim him would only pay a prorated portion of his full salary, it remains a lot of money. It’s rare that a team would take that chance because it’s very likely, even if the two sides can’t come to terms on a trade package, the Brewers would just let him go to get out from under his contract.
Assuming Ramirez cannot be moved by July 31, the Brewers should have all of August to orchestrate a trade. That gives Ramirez enough time to show that he’s the hitter he was from June 12 to July 12 instead of the early-season flameout. Furthermore, it could help reinforce the notion that he is a second-half performer. If he can do that, there is a better chance the Brewers can move him.
It seems unlikely the Brewers would net a high-quality return for Ramirez, but something is always better than nothing. In order for this to happen, though, Ramirez must remain productive. A team also must be willing to acquire him. That much is out of his and the Brewers’ control. Thus, even if Ramirez gets hot, there is a real chance that he won’t be moved. A month ago, it did not appear that a trade was possible, so it’s progress.