MLB Trade Rumors: Should The Marlins Trade Hanley Ramirez?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - Hanley Ramirez #2 of the Florida Marlins makes a play against the Houston Astros (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

There have been conflicting reports about Hanley Ramirez's availability on the trade market. Should the Marlins trade Hanley Ramirez?

The Marlins entered the offseason with an All-Star shortstop. After about a month, they committed over $100 million to another All-Star shortstop. They were going to figure it all out later.

But Hanley Ramirez wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of moving to third base. He is probably going to do it, but he wasn't going to be quiet about it. That led to a report from ESPN Deportes saying that Hanley asked to be traded, which led to the Marlins saying that Hanley did not ask to be traded.

On Wednesday, there was a report that Hanley and his agent had approached the Marlins and asked for a new, reworked contract, which supposedly led to the Marlins wanting to trade him. This led to the Marlins saying that this never happened, and they were not going to trade Hanley.

So Hanley asked to be traded, unless he didn't, and the Marlins aren't going to trade him anyway unless they're shopping him. Hope that clears things up.

Let's move on, then, from whether or not the Marlins will trade Hanley Ramirez, and focus on if they should. The answer to that is probably, "Yes. At the end of 2010." That was when Ramirez was showing a little decline, but not enough to prevent teams from offering wheelbarrows full of prospects for him. The haul that the Marlins could have got for Ramirez after last season would have been something like what the A's got for Dan Haren, or what the Rangers got for Mark Teixeira. It would have made you gasp like a Southern belle from 1914.

But that's not the point. Spilt milk, and all that. Ramirez is coming off his worst season in the majors (FanGraphs had him worth 1.3 wins last year -- same as Alfonso Soriano and Mark Ellis), and he's also acting like a bit of a grouchypants, so his value isn't exactly at an all-time high. Consider, though, that he is:

a. about to turn 28
b. due $45 million over the next three years
c. still technically inhabiting the same body that he was for the previous five years, when he was a superstar

… and you can still see teams would line up to attempt a deal. Was last year the anomaly? Sure looks like it, and it's not like the acquiring team would need to commit to a seven-year deal to find out. The haul the Marlins get back wouldn't be otherworldly -- it would just be a solid group of prospects and young players.

But consider the idea that the Marlins are vomiting money. Like, literally vomiting money. Jeffrey Loria is on the street right now, violently coughing up $100 bills, and people are like, "Hey! A street performer!" but then they get closer and realize that, oh god, something's not right. That's going on right now. And the Marlins can just buy more players if they want. They're said to be in on Prince Fielder, for example.

If that's the case, would you rather have Aramis Ramirez and a burlap sack filled with prospects (or a center fielder, or starting pitcher or ...), or would you rather have Hanley Ramirez? It's an honest question. I can't decide. Aramis isn't exactly a Gold Glover, but he's been one of the more consistent hitters in baseball over the past few years. Over the next three years, I think Ramirez will be the better hitter, but the difference might not be that great. Add in the idea that Aramis wouldn't have a problem playing third base for similar money, and that Hanley could bring back a nice return … it's close.

This is all idle speculation. The Marlins appear to be sincere when they've repudiated the reports that anyone is eager to see Hanley Ramirez somewhere else. But as long as the Marlins can throw money around now, and as long as there's a top-shelf third baseman still on the free-agent market, would they be better off trading the player they handpicked to be the face of the franchise in their new ballpark?

Could be. And if it didn't work out, they could always buy more third basemen. They're the Marlins. They're made of money. It's not like this is a new, frightening thing.

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