Trade speculation, rumors and columns are popping up everywhere with Major League Baseball's trade deadline 21 days away. Former general manager and current ESPN Insider Jim Bowden is getting in on the action.
In his most recent column (It is an ESPN Insider article), Bowden discusses five deals at the deadline he would like to see. The Pirates make the list and are in the buyer position. I give this article a little more thought than your typical trade column because of Bowden. The man did some good work as the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, as opposed to being just a sportswriter or former player with no personnel experience.
Bowden thinks the Pirates should be able to move outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, pitching prospect Nick Kingham and utility player Jordy Mercer to the Chicago White Sox. In return, the Buccos would receive outfielder Alex Rios and shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
I wrote in a previous post that Rios could be a target for the Pirates and wouldn't require much to acquire. They would probably just need a mid-level prospect and offer to take on Rios' salary. Adding Ramirez to the mix is interesting.
He would certainly be an offensive improvement to Clint Barmes and his defensive metrics are pretty similar to Barmes. Ramirez actually has some better sabermetrics for this season. But Ramirez's offense is not too much better than Mercer's. Ramirez has a better average, but he has no power this year (one home rune). Bowden thinks a change of scenery could help Ramirez get back to the level that had him hitting more than 15 homers four times in his career, but has nothing but his gut to back it up.
While Rios would certainly improve the team, I'm just not sure a change of scenery would bring back Ramirez's power, which has been on the decline for three years.
That's not to say that I wouldn't want Ramirez to come to Pittsburgh with Rios. I am willing to give him a shot after a year and a half of Barmes stinking at the plate and Mercer not being an everyday player. I just don't know if the Pirates would or should be willing to give up one of their top, if not best, hitting prospect in Polanco. The guy has some crazy speed, is showing power potential and is already up in Altoona.
If the Pirates had to give up Polanco in order to get Ramirez and Rios, I'd much rather them target only Rios and keep Polanco in the system.