The New York Yankees are in need of a shortstop following the iconic Derek Jeter's retirement from his MLB playing career. Today, I'm arguing that the Yanks should go after Alexei Ramirez to fill that role. Ramirez is a durable, veteran player whom I think the Yankees may be able to acquire via trade. He also has good defensive skills and is consistent as an overall baseball player.
In terms of durability, the last time Ramirez played fewer than 156 games in a year was 2009, and his low-water mark for games played in a season during his major league career is 136. That reliability would be good for the oft-injured Yanks, and in my opinion should put Ramirez ahead of less sturdy guys like Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki on the Yankees' list of Jeter replacements.
In addition to playing a lot every season, Alexei Ramirez has also played for seven years in MLB, which gives him plenty of experience. I think this makes him a better option than other potential trade targets like Didi Gregorius and Jose Ramirez. Gregorius, in fact, has been brought up by at least two blogs as a possible replacement for Mr. November. While age is a problem for the Yankees (Ramirez is 33), I would rather see them go with a more experienced yet slightly older shortstop so they can contend in 2015.
I also think Ramirez would be a pretty feasible trade target for the Yankees should they in fact attempt to acquire him. The Yankees are deep at the catcher, whereas the White Sox have Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley. Combine that with the fact that Brendan Kuty of nj.com wrote of the ChiSox being "linked" to Francisco Cervelli this season, and maybe it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Ramirez getting flipped for a Yankee catcher and another piece or two.
Of course, the Yankees shouldn't go after Ramirez just because of his ability to stay on the field and because they could conceivably pull off a trade for him. He's a good baseball player too. He's got a 9.2 defensive WAR for his career and has been fairly consistent every season in both baseball-reference WAR and fangraphs WAR. So Ramirez certainly has been good so far in MLB, a trend he'd hopefully continue if he were to end up in the Bronx.
Now there are certainly arguments one could make against trading for Alexei Ramirez. The Yankees could sign a free agent, they could trade for another player instead, or Martin Prado could play shortstop. But there's a good counter to every one of those rebuttals.
I think Ramirez is better than many of the free agent shortstops on the market this off-season. Take a look at this fangraphs.com chart ranking 2014 MLB shortstops by their WARs.
And yes, the Yankees could attempt a trade for, say, Ian Desmond or Alcides Escobar, but would Washington or Kansas City be willing to give up such important pieces of their teams?
There's also the possibility of Martin Prado sliding over to shortstop, a case that Michael Moraitis makes, and makes well, on sportsmedia101.com. But while Prado does have good defensive numbers as a shortstop by at least some metrics, he's only played 108.1 big league innings at the position. If the Yankees want to contend next season, they might be better off with a shortstop who's got more experience actually playing shortstop.
The New York Yankees have lots of options to fill their vacant shortstop position in 2015, and they should get Alexei Ramirez to play that spot. He plays in lots of games every season, has been in the majors for seven years, and I think trading for him would be realistic. Ramirez is also good on defense and is consistent as a baseball player, making him a great pick to start for the Bronx Bombers next year.
**Note: All statistics and information used in this post came from baseball-reference.com, except where otherwise noted. The number of innings Martin Prado played at shortstop was found on baseball-reference.com and confirmed via fangraphs.com.