Late Tuesday night, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Los Angeles Dodgers and GM Ned Colletti managed to swing one of the biggest midseason deals in Los Angeles Dodger history, acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins along with left-handed reliever Randy Choate for young right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and pitching prospect Scott McGough.
Hanley will reportedly play shortstop while Dee Gordon continues to be sidelined with a torn thumb ligament, and then slide over to third base for the remainder of the season. According to Dodgers beat writer Dylan Hernandez, the Marlins are not sending any money to cover his contract, basically meaning the Dodgers are on the hook for about $40 million over the next three years.
As for his position, personally, I believe Luis Cruz should stay at shortstop because of the jolt he has brought the team offensively and the constant struggles of Dodger third basemen, but that will all be worked out in the coming days. Cruz will find a spot to play if he continues to stroke the ball as he has, with a modest six-game hit streak and seven RBI on the current road trip.
Randy Choate, a 36-year-old who has pitched for five teams over his 12-year career, has been lights-out against lefties this season. Choate has dominated left-handed batters, striking out 20 of the 60 lefties he has faced while giving up only a .150 average to lefties. His overall batting average against is a stellar .178, and his command is superb as he has only walked nine this season. With the Yankees in the early 2000s, Choate pitched in the World Series and with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010, Choate got to the playoffs once again. In between, Choate spent four years in Arizona, so he is familiar with the National League West.
Eovaldi has had numerous bright moments for the Dodgers and was definitely part of the plans for the Dodgers rotation. Much better than his 1-6 record indicates, Nathan was very good in late 2011 and continues to show promise this year. However, rarely does the opportunity come along to pick up a player who was an all-star three years in a row and at only 28 years old, is just a small comeback away from affirming his spot as a top major league slugger.
McGough had a sub-4.00 ERA for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and 2012 is his first full year in the minor leagues after being drafted out of the University of Oregon in 2011. At 6'0" and 170 pounds, McGough has had some ugly outings, but recorded five saves and was fairly consistent out of the bullpen.
A Dodgers lineup that features Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier suddenly looks like it could compete for not only for an NL West title, but for a pennant and potentially a World Series championship. They must pick up another starter, but according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, a deal with Ryan Dempster seems like it could be in the works. If not, the Dodgers will have to rely on untested minor leaguers such as Steven Fife or John Ely to provide the stability in the back end of the rotation.
Now, the only question left is what number uniform will Hanley wear? It will be more than shades of 2008 if Hanley shows up to batting practice sporting dreads and a No. 99 Ramirez jersey.