Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez a more viable option for Angels

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Aramis Ramirez, reportedly among the hitters the Angels are pursuing, softened his stance on waiving his no-trade rights Thursday, increasing the likelihood of the Chicago Cubs third baseman being dealt before Sunday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Ramirez is batting .296 with 19 home runs and 62 runs batted in and has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters over the past month, with nine homers and 23 RBIs in July.

The 33-year-old has insisted all summer that he would not waive his no-trade clause unless it was clear to him the Cubs were in rebuilding mode.

The Cubs are 42-63, 14 ½ games back in the National League Central, and with Thursday’s trade of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland for a pair of prospects, the rebuilding has begun.


“They come to me with a trade, we’ll see. But no one has talked to me about it,” Ramirez told reporters following the Cubs. “I understand this is a business. I don’t know which way they want to go, and if they’re looking to rebuild, I can’t fit in. So we’ll see.”

Ramirez makes $14.6 million this season, and if he gets traded, his $16-million option for 2012 becomes guaranteed. But his agent, Paul Kinzer, has said that Ramirez would likely want his new club to drop the option so that he can become a free agent after this season. Third baseman Alberto Callaspo has been one of the Angels’ most consistent hitters, with a .298 average, but he has only three homers and 33 RBIs.

Ramirez would be a considerable power upgrade at third base and could boost an Angels offense that ranks 22nd in the major leagues in runs and 20th in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

What could make Ramirez even more attractive to the Angels is that if they were willing to pay the remainder of his 2011 contract—about $5 million—they probably wouldn’t have to part with a top-tier prospect to acquire him.

The Angels are very thin at the upper two levels of their farm system, and they are not about to trade the two prospects virtually every team covets — outfielder Mike Trout and right-hander Garrett Richards, who is 11-1 with a 3.23 earned-run average at double-A Arkansas.


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-- Mike DiGiovanna