Following the 2008 season, the notion of Manny Ramirez reverting to his Boston ways rarely crossed Dodger fans' minds.
Ramirez came to Los Angeles and promptly hit .396/.489/.743 in two months for the Dodgers -- Godlike numbers for an aging slugger. In May 2009, Ramirez was busted for taking a banned substance. Since that time, he hasn't been the same -- on the field and off the field.
While he put up respectable numbers last season (.290/.418/.531), but not the numbers the Dodgers expected. However, the good will Ramirez had built was long gone after the 50-game suspension.
Ramirez now finds himself on the disabled list for the third time this season. His 38-year-old body cannot take the wear-and-tear of playing left field in the National League. This will undoubtedly be his last season as a Dodger and National Leaguer, which is why the Dodgers should consider dealing him now.
Ramirez will be a Type-A free agent after the season, but with the McCourts' financial issues, it would be hard to imagine them offering Ramirez arbitration, even though he'd reject it. That is the main reason why trading him right now makes sense.
Ramirez has landed on the disabled list three times this season -- twice for a right calf strain and once for a right hamstring strain. That does not bode well for Ramirez returning to left field.
While the Dodger offense would take a hit, it would also be a time for the young veterans to step up and prove they can carry a team, something they'll have to do in 2011 and beyond. Also, it'd be nice to see the Dodgers get a return on their investment.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been rumored to be interested in Jayson Werth, but the Phillies' asking price is quite high. The Dodgers should jump right in by making Ramirez available to the Rays. His contract is definitely affordable, as he's making $5 million this season with $15 million in deferred payments over the next three years.
What exactly could the Dodgers expect in return? Well, not much.
One guy I'd really like to have a look at is Jacob McGee. The 23-year-old had Tommy John surgery in June 2008. Before that, he was rated as the Rays' No. 3 prospect as recently as 2008 (No. 9 in 2009 and No. 8 in 2010), according to Baseball America. He's a left-handed starter who is pitching well at Double-A. I don't even know if the Rays would be willing to trade him. But if their attemps for Werth don't work out, Ramirez could be an option.
The Rays do have one of the deepest farm systems in baseball and could use a big bat in the middle of their lineup. Provided Ramirez is healthy, he'd be a stabilizing force in the middle of an already solid Tampa lineup.
But this is the Dodgers, a.k.a. one of the most stubborn teams in baseball. The team isn't likely to move Ramirez, even though it'd make a lot of sense.
Trading Ramirez would not be a sign of the Dodgers being sellers or giving up; it would be a smart baseball move.
Should the Dodgers trade Ramirez? Yes.
Will the Dodgers trade Ramirez? No.