Setting aside his agent’s suggestion yesterday that Aramis Ramirez would approve a trade – after the non-waiver trade deadline, or possibly before it – Ramirez took to the media shortly thereafter to clarify his position.
“Right now, I’m not interested in any trade,” Ramirez said. “It is my family consideration. If I was single and by myself, then I’d move anywhere and be in a hotel for the last two months [of the season]. It’s too tough with my family. I earned the right to be in this position and it’s my decision.”
Now for some moderately uncomfortable, but important analysis of Ramirez’s statement. Primarily, I’d like to discuss his purported rationale for refusing to approve a trade until August (i.e., that he wants to wait until his family returns to the Dominican Republic). It is, after all, a hugely relevant topic, given that the restrictions on trading Ramirez in August are far greater than they would be in July.
You question a man’s motives with respect to his family at your own peril, so I’m doing my best to avoid doing just that, while providing a meaningful analysis of Ramirez’s comments. As a recent father myself, I know that when time with your kids is involved, all bets are off.
So, with the ample pre-backpedaling out of the way, let’s take a look at the Chicago Cubs’ schedule, and how it relates to Ramirez’s purported justification for refusing to approve a trade before the end of July.
After the current homestand, which ends on July 24 – this Sunday – the Cubs are on the road until August 5, when they’re home for six days before heading out on the road again. Ramirez has suggested that the plan is for his family to return to the Dominican Republic in early August. So, based on that schedule, I can only assume that the plan is for them to head back to the D.R. on August 10 or 11. (The Cubs are at home again from August 19 to 25, but I’ve read in several places that Ramirez’s family is to return to the D.R. in early August, so, for the purposes of this article, I’m assuming August 10/11 is the timeframe.)
That means, if Ramirez refuses a trade during the last week of July, he would be doing so in order to spend an additional six days in Chicago with his family (at the expense of two and a half/three weeks with his new team – not to mention the added difficulty in securing a trade to the team of his preference). If Ramirez’s family travels with him on the road, a trade wouldn’t matter because they’d just follow him to the new destination. So, I can only conclude that the key is time spent together in Chicago. That’s why those six days appear to be the lynchpin.
Also worth noting: Ramirez is given a $1 million relocation bonus if the Cubs can actually put together a trade for him. I love, love, love my wife and daughter. But if someone wanted to pay me $1 million to spend six days away from them, I’d laugh at my family’s tears while I jumped on the plane. Then again, I don’t have millions of dollars already like Ramirez.
In case you’re not picking up what I’m laying down: it seems strange to use a mere six days with your family as a reason to block a trade, unless you don’t want to be traded at all. And, as Ramirez’s agent made clear yesterday, Ramirez probably wants to be traded.
So, what’s going on?
Imagine you’re Ramirez. You really want to be traded because (a) it gives you an opportunity to drop the 2012 option and become a free agent after the season in an extremely thin free agent class, (b) it gives you a nice $1 million relocation bonus, and (c) it gives you an opportunity to play on the playoff contender of your choice. Given that you have no-trade rights, you already hold a great deal of leverage in accomplishing your twin subgoals of getting the option dropped and selecting the team for which you’d like to play. But is it really so inconceivable that might enhance your ability to wield that leverage without looking like a jerk by offering an unassailable justification for invoking your no-trade rights until a trade perfectly meets your satisfaction?
Yes, it is entirely possible that those additional six days with his family are so important to Ramirez that he doesn’t want to gone from Chicago early, nor does he want his family to return home to the Dominican Republic early. I am in no way foreclosing that possibility, and I cannot be more clear on that point. It’s also entirely possible that there are other reasons, unknown to me (like a work visa issue, for example), that further explain Ramirez’s position.
But, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t suggest that it’s also possible that Ramirez would like to remain in a position where he can tell both the Cubs and a trade partner that they’ve got to make this thing just right for him to approve a trade. Because, after all, he’s got a *real* reason to wield his control: his family. Nobody’s going to question that, and now, maybe he gets a little extra incentive thrown his way to approve a trade in late July. And, surely he knows that he’s much more likely to end up with the team of his choice in a July deal than an August deal given the waiver complication.
My guess? Like most things in life, it’s a little bit of both. One thing of which I’m relatively certain, though: if Ramirez is traded before July 31, you’re going to see some special considerations included in the deal, beyond just the dropping of the 2012 option. If Ramirez is going to go early, he’s going to get a little something extra to make it happen.