The non-waiver trade deadline is a mere 12 days away, and third base is a position of need for the Dodgers.
The team has used a combination of players this season trying to fill the hot corner. Luis Cruz began the season as the starter but before the end of April hit his way out of a full-time job. Cruz started 20 games at third base, Nick Punto started 14 and Jerry Hairston started 11 at the position. Juan Uribe, in what has been a remarkably resurgent season, has helped stabilize the position somewhat with 49 starts at third.
Dodgers third baseman are 26th in MLB in OPS (.631), 24th in batting average (.232), 21st in on-base percentage (.305), 28th in slugging percentage (.326), 25th in wOBA (25th), 22nd in wRC+ (76), 27th in total bases (111) and tied for 26th in home runs (five).
Offense isn't everything, of course, and thanks to the defense of Cruz, now gone, and Uribe, the Dodgers are closer to the middle of the pack, 14th overall in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (1.7).
The bulk, if not all of that production has come from Uribe, who is hitting .270/.343/.413 with 10 doubles and five home runs in 71 games. Uribe's OPS+ of 113 is higher than Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and A.J. Ellis, and compared to his putrid production in the first two years (.199/.262/.289 in 2011-2012, a 54 OPS+) Uribe has been a godsend.
But to count on Uribe going forward is a risky proposition. Uribe has started 22 of the last 32 games at third base, with the 35-year-old Punto and 37-year-old Hairston in reserve. Acquiring a third baseman with some stability is obviously preferred, but is there anyone out there?
The 35-year-old is hitting .271/.359/.414 with five home runs and 11 doubles in 51 games this season after averaging .297/.359/.534, 28 home runs and 97 RBI over the previous nine years. He is currently on the disabled list with a left knee injury, but could be back as early as Monday, per Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Finding out if Ramirez is healthy will go a long way in determining whether the Dodgers want to take on the remainder of his $10 million salary this season (approximately $3.8 million if acquired Tuesday), $16 million in 2014 and a mutual option for 2015 or a $4 million buyout, per Cot's Contracts.
With the Brewers 18 games under .500 they might be looking to offload other pieces as well, like one of their relievers or even starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, so Ramirez and his salary could be part of a larger trade.
The standard wish list of Phillies, starting pitcher Cliff Lee and second baseman Chase Utley, requires a loss of faith by the Philadelphia front office in their ability to contend. But a deal for the 36-year-old Young, a free agent after the season, seems far more likely to happen regardless of what happens on the field for the Phillies in the next two weeks.
Young is hitting .288/.344/.414 with 18 doubles and six home runs in 89 games, and honestly would anyone be surprised if the Bishop Amat grad and UCSB Gaucho ends up in Los Angeles? The Phillies are only on the hook for $6 million of Young's $16 million salary in 2013, so they may not be in a huge rush to save roughly $2.3 million.
The 27-year-old is hitting .265/.323/.445 with 10 home runs in 2013, on pace for a roughly similar season to 2012 when he hit .235/.301/.455 with 24 home runs. There is no real indication that Plouffe is even on the block, but 20-year-old Miguel Sano is a top 10 prospect in all of baseball and could take over at third base for the Twins in a year or so.
Plouffe has one year, 162 days of service time and will be a Super Two in 2014, the first of four years of arbitration eligibility, making this a long-term play.
What a difference a year makes. Headley finished sixth in the National League MVP race in 2012, but now the 29-year-old is hitting just .229/.330/.359 with seven home runs in 82 games in 2013. Perhaps the Padres wouldn't require a king's ransom for the player looking less like the one who hit 23 home runs in 75 games after the 2012 All-Star break and looking more like the one with 51 home runs in his 697 other major league games.
But Headley, who is making $8.575 million in 2013 and has one more year of arbitration eligibility before hitting free agency, sounds like he isn't going anywhere any time soon. As Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted Wednesday, "People who have spoken to the Padres have the impression it would take a special prospect to make the Padres even consider a trade for Headley."