Twelve years later, he is back in the steel city.
Thursday evening the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league right-hander Yhonathan Barrios and cash. The Pirates will take on a $3 million of the $5.7 million remaining on Ramirez’s $14 million deal.
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Ramirez spent the first six seasons of his career with the Pirates after signing with the club as an amateur free agent in 1994. During his time in Pittsburgh, the future all-star hit .263 with 76 homeruns and 316 RBIs. He would also endure some of the worst Pirate teams in franchise history and was dealt to the Chicago Cubs, along with Kenny Lofton, at the 2003 trade deadline.
Now the veteran third baseman returns to an organization that has gone from doormat to a World Series contender over the past half-decade. And his acquisition comes at a pressing time for the Pirates. After going through the first three months of the season relatively injury free, infielders Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer will be out until mid-to-late August. The move also comes following an abysmal road trip where the Pirates failed to score more than one run in four of the six contests.
The lack of offense is nothing new. Though the Pirates have shown flashes of an emerging offense, the team has trended in the back end of most team batting categories. The team is 19th in runs scored while the club’s slugging and OPS rank 23rd and 21st respectively. And for a team trying to claim their first division crown since 1992, those numbers are not going to cut it.
But can Ramirez help the Pirates’ offensive woes? The answer is yes, but fans should not expect the world from the former Bucco. Statistically, the aging slugger is having one of his worst seasons. Ramirez is hitting .247 with a career low OPS of .725. However, the veteran has begun to heat up over the past few weeks. Ramirez is batting .352 with an OPS of .922 in the month of July
If anything, the Pirates need to get the long ball out of Ramirez. With 69 homers on the season, the Pirates are fourth to the bottom in Major League Baseball. Ramirez’s 11 home runs on the year indicate that the 37-year-old still has some power left. A return to PNC Park should help Ramirez’s home run numbers; the veteran has hit 45 career home runs at PNC.
With rumors swirling around the club, the Ramirez deal looks to be only the tip of the iceberg for the Pirates. Reports say that the team is frantically shopping Pedro Alvarez around baseball. Though the bull has struggled to hit consistently, any trade for the first baseman would only yield a minuscule return unless packaged with other players.
Staying pat with Alvarez is the smart move for the Pirates with the depth of the team coming into question with the resent injuries. Though Ramirez can replace Alvarez’s production with near identical numbers, the Pirates cannot make a trade involving the first baseman without receiving a player that can contribute to the club down the stretch. But with roughly a week to go until the trade deadline, anything can happen.