Since taking over as GM of the Padres, one of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the team has been what will A.J. Preller do to upgrade the shortstop position. San Diego was connected to Starlin Castro during the 2015 trade deadline, but nothing ever came to fruition. While nothing appears imminent at the moment, Bruce Levine and Ken Rosenthal reported that the Padres have shown an interest in Alexei Ramirez.
Ramirez is coming off a disappointing 2015 season, and a stretch of subpar offensive campaigns. In fact, since 2008, his rookie season, Ramirez hasn't posted an above average wRC+. Most of his overall value has been tied to his defensive skill set, which has been in decline since 2013.
From 2009-2013, Ramirez posted positive DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) values, but over the last two years, he cost the White Sox 10 runs. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and RngR (Range runs above Average) have been steadily declining, and it's fair to wonder if Ramirez has any value left.
Despite his shortcomings, the Padres could be motivated to sign Ramirez over the more valuable Ian Desmond for a couple reasons. The first is the commitment. Ramirez won't require a long-term deal that Desmond seeks, and consequently less money. The second is that Ramirez isn't tied to a qualyfing offer, which would allow the Padres to keep their second round pick; and would give them an enviable number of picks in the top 100.
Signing Ramirez also would enable #Padres to keep 2nd-round pick (1st pick, No. 8 overall, is protected). SD could get six picks in top 100.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 8, 2016
While Desmond is undoubtedly the better overall player, the Padres don't appear likely to contend in 2016, in part to their roster construction, and due to the perceived strength of the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks. Ramirez might not help them increase their chances of contending, but it could be the best option for the long-term.