The Cleveland Guardians may have a new name, but they likely still have the same tight-fisted spending habits that have already seen star players like Francisco Lindor, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevinger dealt away in recent years.
The Blue Jays have to hope Jose Ramirez is the next player the Guardians would rather exchange for a package of prospects than hand a big long-term deal. The All-Star third baseman was the subject of incessant trade rumours throughout 2021, and those haven’t subsided as he enters the final two years of Cleveland’s club control.
Ramirez is due to earn $12 million next season. The Guardians have a $14 million club option for 2023. Then he’s a free agent, where he will command one of the top salaries in the game. The Guardians likely won’t pay him what he’ll want, and that’s where a club like the Blue Jays will happily step in and take Ramirez off Cleveland’s hands.
Since 2017, Ramirez is fourth among third basemen in home runs (144), third in RBI (420), and second with a .911 OPS. He’s finished in the top six of MVP voting four times in the last five seasons. Still just 29, he’s coming off a season where he hit 36 homers and drove in 103 for a Cleveland lineup in which he was often the only serious offensive threat; Ramirez ranked third in the AL last season in intentional walks.
Ramirez’s strength is crushing fastballs. He had a .663 slugging percentage off fastballs in 2021, fourth in the Majors (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was first at .794). Ramirez had the second-lowest swing-and-miss rate on fastballs, behind only the Padres’ Jake Cronenworth.
So what will the Blue Jays need to surrender to get him from the Guardians? Looking at recent history, they probably won’t have to dig deep into the organization. When the then-Indians traded Francisco Lindor to the Mets last offseason, they received Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, and two prospects, Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene, neither of whom is in their top-25 prospects. Of the four prospects the Cardinals traded to Colorado for another All Star-caliber third baseman, Nolan Arenado, only one is even a top-30 club prospect.