1 bold trade the Cubs need to make coming out of the lockout

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Any time you’re talking about the parameters of a potential trade, it obviously needs to make sense on both sides. We’re not playing a video game here. When it comes to the Cleveland Guardians’ All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez, there could be a way the Cubs get involved and land the slugger in a move that would drastically shake things up heading in 2022.

A little over a year ago, the Guardians traded face of the franchise Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets in a deal that netted a return of Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez and prospects Josh Wolf and Isaiah Greene. Neither Wolf nor Greene are among Baseball America‘s recently-released top 100 rankings.

When the Cubs dismantled their own core, it’s important to remember the team didn’t just free up tremendous financial resources – but they also replenished a farm system that Baseball Prospectus recently ranked seventh in all of baseball. If the Cubs want to capitalize, they’ve got the capital – both in dollars and talent – to make some noise.

Cleveland is currently projected to win 81.5 games in 2022 and more than likely miss the postseason for a second straight year. Maybe the Guardians want to rebuild around Ramirez – but the likelier course of action is the infielder hitting free agency after next season (assuming the team picks up his 2023 team option).

Ramirez is set to earn just $12 million in 2022 – and that option is just $12 million – a more than palatable sum for a player of Ramirez’ caliber. A three-time All-Star and Silver Slugger recipient, he carries a .278/.354/.501 line during his nine-year career. A switch-hitter, he’s hit .272 against lefties and .292 against righties, with pretty equal performance against both, according to wRC+.

Keith Law recently ranked Cleveland’s farm system as the eighth-best in baseball. The Guardians boast five top 100 prospects, but their highest ranks 59th. At which point do you realize that by not keeping Lindor and Carrasco, your best bet now may be to move Ramirez, as well?

If Cleveland is unwilling or unable to give Ramirez the type of deal that will keep him there long-term (which seems unlikely given how talks between the club and Lindor went), two years of production is worth an awful lot in prospects – and a trade could help jump start the rebuild.

Chicago Cubs: Jose Ramirez would be an immediate centerpiece for the team

So, if the Cubs can manage to twist Cleveland’s arm and do some serious negotiating, what is the cost of a player like Ramirez at this point? For reference, all we have is the previous trades of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco which netted the two middle infielders and two prospects, neither of whom are in the top 100. Would the Guardians take a top 100 prospect and a big league-ready bat for Ramirez in effort to further cut salary and set themselves up for success from a cost-effective standpoint in the future?

If the Guardians are smart, they’ll figure out their odds of extending Ramirez before the season starts. Coming off a 141 OPS+ 2021 season, he’s a game-changer for any team looking to solidify the hot corner. If he builds on that performance this year with an MVP-like showing, there’s almost no chance he sticks in Cleveland. The dollars on the open market will simply be too much to spurn.

Next. 3 trade chips if the team starts slow in 2022. dark

If Cleveland wishes to complete its rebuild sooner, moving Ramirez is the best option for them to do so given their odds of extending him. Keeping in mind the Cubs’ recent surge in the farm system rankings, Chicago could be a perfect trade partner for Ramirez post-lockout. If landed, while signing a big name free agent bat, it puts the Cubs back in postseason talks overnight.