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July 23, 2015

Transaction Analysis

A Full Circle Aramis

by R.J. Anderson, Christopher Crawford and Bret Sayre

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IN THIS ISSUE

National League

MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired RHP Yhonathan Barrios from the Pirates in exchange for 3B-R Aramis Ramirez and cash considerations. [7/23]

No one should be surprised that the Brewers didn’t receive an upper-echelon prospect in return for a player that is very likely to retire at the end of 2015. Milwaukee fans can take some solace though in that in return for a player that won’t be able to help them next year, they get a potential member of the bullpen.

Barrios is a converted shortstop who is still relatively new to full-time pitching, so it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the control/command is well below-average at this point. The arm strength is elite though, as the 5’11” right-hander routinely touches the high 90's and sits 94-96 mph with his heater. He’ll also show an average slider with tilt in the low 80’s, and a 40 change that has some movement but a noticeable difference in arm speed.

There’s still a lot of work to be done—and his floor is organizational fodder—but because of his arm strength, there’s a chance he can become a contributor to a big league staff. As uninspiring as that may sound, it’s better than the alternative, which is nothing. —Christopher Crawford

Fantasy Impact

Hernan Perez
This is what it's come to in Milwaukee. There's certainly something shiny about Perez's .840 OPS in Milwaukee, and this certainly makes him worth playing consistently in NL-only formats, but if you're picking him up in a mixed league of any size, I have whole bunch of things I'd like to try and sell you. Did you know this car was once owned by Jon Voight? —Bret Sayre

For some additional local perspective on the trade, check out the trade analysis at BP Milwaukee.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquired 3B-R Aramis Ramirez and cash considerations from the Brewers in exchange for RHP Yhonathan Barrios. [7/23]

Ramirez returns to his original organization, 12 years to the day of the trade that sent him to the Cubs. Back then he was a 25-year-old underachiever, a tease with one good year amid a sea of mediocrity. This time around, Ramirez is 37 and two months from retiring; so goes the circle of baseball life.

Though Ramirez has since made three all-star teams and earned MVP votes on five occasions, his skill set remains tilted toward the offensive end, as he's regarded as a below-average fielder and station-to-station runner. Ramirez has some flaws at the plate, too. He's a free swinger who has seven more walks than double plays grounded into since the start of last season, and his slow start and reduced average have left his catch-all numbers in worse shape than usual. (His .253 True Average would be his lowest since . . . you guessed it, his days in the Steel City.) Nonetheless the appeal here is that Ramirez can still club the ball now and again, with his .183 ISO ranking 10th among qualifying third basemen.

Besides, it's not like the Pirates can afford to be too selective, since injuries and poor play have compromised once-promising Pittsburgh's infield depth. Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer are both out until mid-August at the earliest, and the Pirates' first-base hydra (Pedro Alvarez, Sean Rodriguez, and Corey Hart) has failed to produce results. In an ideal world, Ramirez would fill a reserve role; as it is, the Pirates will probably start him and Jung-ho Kang on the left side of the infield until help arrives.

At that point the Pirates can determine their best plan of attack. If Ramirez's recent hot streak carries over, then perhaps Clint Hurdle would use Josh Harrison in his old super-sub role. Otherwise Ramirez can slide to the bench with an eye on providing late-inning lightning. By then everyone will wonder if Rodriguez could handle first base, but he's never played the position before and it's hard to envision him learning it in his final regular-season month.

No matter how the next two months play out for Ramirez and the Pirates, Pittsburgh's recent slide and the low transaction cost make this a worthwhile gamble on Neal Huntington's part. —R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Aramis Ramirez
This is a loss all around for Ramirez's value the rest of the season; however, he remains a largely underrated fantasy asset in redraft formats. The move from Milwaukee to Pittsburgh obviously hurts from a park perspective (PNC Park suppresses right-handed power by 20 percent, while Miller park amplifies it by over 30 percent), but he doesn't stand to get a "oh hey I'm on a better team now" bump either, as the Brewers have scored more runs on the season than the Pirates. That said, he's been scorching in July (with a .922 OPS) and has consistently been a better producer once April and May have passed throughout his career. As the old adage goes, "never get involved in a land war in Asia and never give up on Aramis Ramirez around Memorial Day." Even with the tick down, don't be surprised to see Ramirez hit .260-.270 with 8-10 homers the rest of the way.

The Entire Pirates' Rotation
And this is the downside to getting Ramirez's bat into the Pirates' lineup. A left-side infield of Jung-ho Kang and Ramirez may be the worst in all of baseball (though the Jose Ramirez/Lonnie Chisenhall pairing from April and May may have topped it), and it will test the ground ball philosophy in Pittsburgh. All five of Pittsburgh's active starting pitchers have ground ball rates of over 50 percent, and their patience will likely be tested over the next two months. That said, it's not like they were running Andrelton Simmons and Scott Rolen out there before this, so it's more of a minor quibble than a major red flag. —Bret Sayre


R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here
Christopher Crawford is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Christopher's other articles. You can contact Christopher by clicking here
Bret Sayre is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Bret's other articles. You can contact Bret by clicking here

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