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View from the catwalk: Is a Wilson Ramos trade a sure thing?

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MLB: Houston Astros at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Marc Topkin thinks that Wilson Ramos should be traded, and is going to be traded, and he’s beating that drum hard. He’s not all the way wrong, but I question a few of his assertions. Because I veiw acknowledging uncertainty as one of the most important parts of our jobs here at DRaysBay, let’s step through them.

But there is no real reason for the Rays not to trade Ramos.

Wilson Ramos helps the Rays win, because he plays good baseball. Wins, and good baseball matters, to the fans, and by extension to the bottom line, even when a team does not make the playoffs. Win number 84 that takes you near but still out of the playoffs matters less than win number 90 that takes you into them, but they still count. This is detailed in one of the most foundational studies of baseball, Vince Gennaro’s Diamond Dollars.

They’re not going anywhere with him.

FTFY: They’re probably not going anywhere with him.

It’s too big of a gamble to keep Ramos to get draft-pick compensation. Unlike last year’s decision with pitcher Alex Cobb, Ramos is much more likely to take the one-year qualifying offer for around $18 million.

This is the crux of it. Maybe Wilson Ramos would accept the qualifying offer. It’s possible. But it’s a valid question as to whether that would be so bad for the Rays. They’ve cleared a ton of payroll off the books for next year, so while that would be more than the Rays usually pay for players, it’s actually not as crazy as it sounds. You pay market rates for players who you can’t replace internally at below market rates, and right now, with this system (Archer trade speculation aside), that means catcher.

Also, Wilson Ramos might not accept the qualifying offer. There is real uncertainty. If he does, that will bring his desireable free agent price down for everyone except the Rays, and makes it more feasible for the Rays to sign him to a multi-year deal.

So yes, the Rays should absolutely be listening to every team that’s checking in on Wilson Ramos. They should absolutely be considering trading him. But those trade proposals get weighed against something real: the wins and excitement he’ll bring the Rays this season, the chance he’d accept a qualifying offer, the chance he’d reject a qualifying offer, the chance he’d then resign with the Rays, and the chance he’d sign somewhere else.

Topkin might be right, but he shouldn’t be so certain.

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Update: The deal is done! Welcome Sugar Shane!

  • All aboard the Brandon Low Hype Train.

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