Levine: Alexei Ramirez In High Demand

By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) The White Sox have heard from numerous major league clubs about the availability of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, the 33-year-old All-Star who has been high on the list of several big-market teams. The interested teams include the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers. All of these franchises are looking for a reliable shortstop to anchor their infields.

The Mets have been the most aggressive in their pursuit of a shortstop over the past 12 months. General manager Sandy Alderson has had his top scouts looking at shortstops such as Ramirez, the Cubs’ Starlin Castro and free agents Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez extensively this past season. The Mets also have exactly what the White Sox are looking for if they agree to move Ramirez.

Chicago needs starting pitching — especially right-handed power pitchers. Mets righty Noah Syndergaard and righty Rafael Montero are at the top of that list. Syndergaard was 9-7 at Triple-A Las Vegas in 26 starts, with a 4.60 ERA and 145 strikeouts in 133 innings in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He was the centerpiece in the trade with Toronto that sent Cy Young winner R.A Dickey to the Blue Jays in 2013. The 22-year-old Syndergaad is a power pitcher, while the 24-year-old Montero is a command pitcher with a solid arm.

Ramirez’s contract is considered a strong selling point for the White Sox if they do entertain a deal. He’s making a modern-day bargain of $10 million in both 2015 and 2016. The Cuban native has missed just 22 games in the last five seasons out of 810 games possible (an average of 156 played per year). Ramirez made the All-Star team for the first time in 2014, and he’s averaged 68 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 17 errors over the last five seasons.

Since 2009, Ramirez is the American League leader among shorstops in RBIs, hits, total bases and games played.

If Ramirez is moved, the White Sox would be looking internally or through free agency for one season for a replacement shortstop. That should suffice while elite prospect Tim Anderson (their No. 1 draft pick in 2013) hones his skills in the minor leagues.

On Thursday, Ramirez was named a winner of the American League Silver Slugger Award. It was his second; he also got the honor in 2010.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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