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July 25, 2012

Transaction Analysis

Hanley Goes to Hollywood UPDATED

by Colin Wyers, R.J. Anderson and Kevin Goldstein

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IN THIS ISSUE

National League

According to Yahoo's Tim Brown, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, and numerous other reports, the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to acquire Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGoughIf and when the trade is announced and/or the details are finalized, we'll update this post.

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquire RHP Nathan Eovaldi and RHP Scott McGough from the Los Angeles Dodgers for 3B-R Hanley Ramirez and LHP Randy Choate. [7/24]

The headliner so far is Nathan Eovaldi, who’s bounced between Double-A and the majors over the past two seasons without managing to establish himself as a starting pitcher. He’s a young, cost-controlled pitcher the Marlins can use to fill out the back of their rotation, but right now he doesn’t look like much more than that.  The Dodgers have limited his innings to keep him healthy (he had Tommy John surgery in high school, and missed a month of his first season in the minors with an oblique strain), so the Marlins have to hope that with experience he can refine his secondary pitches and take advantage of his mid-90s fastball. —Colin Wyers

A fifth-round pick in 2011, McGough is an intriguing relief prospect who still has plenty to work on. At six feet tall and with a slight build, he's on the small side, but he has an incredibly fast arm capable of firing 93-95-mph fastballs that touch 97, although there is some effort in his delivery. His command and control is no better than average, and his ultimate role as either a late-inning reliever or just another bullpen piece will come down to the development of his slider. He'll flash a plus one with heavy break, but it's a rarity, as he has a tendency to overthrow the pitch and has trouble keeping it in the strike zone. He has a good ceiling and a decent floor because of his velocity, but he's only at High-A and is not your standard quick-moving college relief prospect. —Kevin Goldstein

A Marlins fan knew what to expect in the infield on Monday morning. They knew that Carlos Lee would be at first base, Omar Infante and Jose Reyes would play up the middle, and Hanley Ramirez would start at third base. Now, on Wednesday morning, the erasure of Infante and Ramirez has left said Marlins fan dizzy with all the mediocre choices. Ostensibly, Miami will use some combination of Emilio Bonifacio, Greg Dobbs, Donovan Solano, or Chris Coghlan at third base and second base. Thus far, the Marlins have used Bonifacio at second base, and Dobbs and Solano at third base. If only they had a young third baseman to plug in. Alas, Miami will have to address those positions during the offseason.  —R.J. Anderson

LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Acquire 3B-R Hanley Ramirez and LHP Randy Choate from the Miami Marlins for RHP Nathan Eovaldi and RHP Scott McGough. [7/24]

On one hand, Hanley Ramirez is something of a cipher these days. From 2011 through 2012, he’s been essentially a league-average hitter. And although PECOTA sees him bouncing back to his career norms for the rest of the season, that’s an average expectation, not any sort of a guarantee. More troubling is his glove; he’s never been a solid defender at shortstop, but there’s some reason to believe that he hasn’t adjusted well to playing third base either, with a FRAA of -13.3 so far this year.

The Dodgers are willing to gamble, though, because what they do have right now can’t even be called league average; between shortstop and third base they have a combined .242 TAv, and that’s with the injured Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe playing within a handful of points of their rest-of-season PECOTAs. If Hanley’s upside is a return to something approaching his All-Star years and his downside is puttering along at around league average, the Dodgers have made a gamble they simply can’t lose. Don Mattingly is going to have his own version of Sophie’s choice to make when Gordon returns: "You can lose Juan Uribe or Dee Gordon from your lineup. Pick one and only one." But either way, the Dodgers have improved their lineup over what it was yesterday.

For the Marlins, Ramirez has always been a bit superfluous (and discontented) ever since they signed Jose Reyes, and this clears up a fair amount of the money that they’re setting on fire (or paying to Heath Bell, I forget which). According to LA Times‚Äč beat writer Dylan O. Hernandez, the Dodgers aren't getting any money from the Marlins, which would suggest that the newly flush Los Angeles franchise will be on the hook for the remainder of Hanley's $15 million salary this season (about $6 million) as well as the $31.5 million due to him over the next two years. For right now, this looks like a return to the bad old ways of the firesale Marlins of the past, but in theory the club could use the cash freed up to retool the team in the offseason, so it’s best to wait and see what the Marlins actually do before drawing any conclusions about their intentions.

The Dodgers also pick up Randy Choate, a marginally useful bullpen arm who’s slightly better than what you can find on the scrap heap but not so much better that the Marlins are going to miss him. —Colin Wyers

Although Choate is small fish compared to Ramirez, he is an excellent situational reliever. Choate’s multi-year True Average against left-handed batter is .178; Mario Mendoza, for reference, had a career .190 TAv. Presumably, Shawn Tolleson will go to make room for Choate, in which case the Dodgers will have two southpaw relievers. So long as Don Mattingly only uses Choate against lefties in high-leverage situations, everyone involved should be thrilled. —R.J. Anderson

Colin Wyers is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Colin's other articles. You can contact Colin by clicking here
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
Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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