It’s no secret that the San Diego Padres are in desperate need of a shortstop, as their best option on the roster right now is Alexi Amarista. There is a report that the Padres are talking to both Ian Desmond and Alexei Ramirez and either one of those options is clearly an immediate upgrade.
But which one of them is the better fit?
Awhile back, I wrote an article on Desmond and why he isn’t worth the money or losing a draft pick for. He isn’t a terrible option for the Padres, per se. But for what he’s projected to get in a contract, it isn’t ideal. Now, that isn’t saying the Padres should completely shun him and not talk to him at all. But that does mean the Padres shouldn’t make him their only choice and spend numerous hours trying to get a deal done when reality is, he probably won’t lower his asking price as much as General Manager A.J. Preller might hope.
So that begs the question: If not Desmond, who?
There is another option in free agency by the name of Alexei Ramirez.
He is a shell of himself, there’s no debate about that. But he is 34 years of age and is projected to get 1 year worth $7.5 million or somewhere around $9 million for a contract. That doesn’t seem so bad for a guy who just 2 years ago posted a 3.1 WAR. Ramirez is an immediate upgrade over Amarista, even with Ramirez’s very poor year last season.
Who’s to say Ramirez won’t have somewhat of a bounce back either?
It’s unlikely a player of his caliber falls off from a 3.1 WAR to a -0.5 WAR without there being some sort of reason. I don’t think it’s all regression, although given his age it’s probably fair to say it’s mostly that. He seemed to have a fair share of bad luck last season as well. His career BABIP is .291 and he finished with a .264 BABIP. His K rate went down (from 12.3% in 2014 to 10.9% in 2015) and his walk rate up (from 3.7% in 2014 to 5.0% in 2015). He also hit more line drives than the year before and also hit it more solid than 2014 as well.
His fielding is getting worse by the year, by now it seems more than a fluke on that side of the ball, but for only one or two non-contending years, it can be ignored.
Another reason that people seem to be ignoring is the fact that the Padres have a surplus of shortstop talent in the minors including top shortstop prospect Javier Guerra. Ramirez would provide the perfect stop-gap for Guerra as well as being a leader in a clubhouse that is full of young guys including Cory Spangenberg, Travis Jankowski, and Wil Myers. He would bring more to the team than Desmond would, at a lot less of a cost and wouldn’t block Guerra in two years when he is ready. For all intents and purposes, signing Ramirez should be the way to go for the Padres.