Somwhat overlooked in the craziness that is the Marlins offseason:
They already have an All-Star shortstop.
Sunday night’s acquisition of Jose Reyes means Hanley Ramirez no longer is the Marlins’ starting shortstop. Where he’ll play next year is up in the air — the options appear to be third base or center field (two Marlins’ holes) or shortstop for another organization.
The Marlins probably prefer he stay with them, and switch positions. He’d, no doubt, be a significant upgrade over their starting third baseman (Greg Dobbs) and center fielder (Chris Coghlan and Co.) from 2011.
But it’ll be up to Ramirez, 27, to make the most of the situation, like Michael Young of the Rangers has done time and again, moving from second to short to third to DH.
If Ramirez can’t do that — and there doesn’t appear to be much indication either way — the Marlins might have no choice but to explore a trade. And that’s problematic for several reasons.
For starters, losing Ramirez would put a damper on the Marlins’ super exciting offeason. Gotta believe they prefer to win with Ramirez alongside their big-ticket acquisitions — Reyes and Heath Bell among them, and maybe Albert Pujols in the near future.
Plus, Ramirez’s stock isn’t as high as it once was. The three-time All-Star is coming off an awful season, in which he was limited to 92 games. A shoulder injury ended his season in August. Two years after winning the NL batting championship, he hit .243 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Ramirez’s effort on the field also has been questioned before, in 2010.
That said, he’s still a career .306 hitter who has 30-homer and 100-RBI potential, not to mention the ability to hit leadoff and steal 30 or more bases.
With Reyes off the market, the shortstop free-agent market is much thinner. The best available (apologies to Rafael Furcal) is Jimmy Rollins, who is three years older than Ramirez and also has battled injuries in recent seasons. Rollins, in fact, has fallen off significantlly since winning National League MVP honors in ’07.
Rollins was believed to seeking a four- or five-year deal, and Reyes’ six-year deal certainly did nothing to change his mind. Ramirez, meanwhile, already is locked up for the next three years, for $46.5 million.
Wonder if the Tigers would be interested. They’ve dealt with the Marlins before, though that Miguel Cabrera blockbuster was more like a fleecing. Detroit supposedly showed a bit of interest in Reyes, and could always move Jhonny Peralta from shortstop to third base. It’d solve several key Tigers’ problems: leadoff hitter, speed and third base.
But whether that deal, or any deal — would the Red Sox want back the guy they traded for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in 2005 — takes place likely will be Ramirez’s call.
He has to decide whether he wants to suck up the position switch and be a part of the Marlins’ exciting new era, or try to win his ring elsewhere.
And as a shortstop.
Be sure to check back with Covering the Bases, as Tony Paul blogs throughout the day Monday-Wednesday from the winter meetings.