In its simplest form, the question has an easy answer: Would the Rays be better with Manny Ramirez's bat in their lineup?
Have you been watching? …
Of course, it's not that simple. But sometime over the next 10 days, it could be an intriguing and complicated issue for Rays execs to consider.
Would he be motivated and engaged enough to have a major impact as the big DH bat they've been lacking to justify giving up prospects plus paying most or all of the $4 million he's owed?
Or too much of a risk and/or distraction who could disrupt what they have working?
A lot has to happen to get to that point, but you can be sure the Rays are already thinking about it.
Ramirez, 38, came back Saturday from a third DL stint (calf strain) and has to show he is healthy.
The Dodgers, on the edge of the playoff race, have to concede and put him on waivers.
Then, either the Rays have to make and, trickier, get a waiver claim on Ramirez or, better for their chances to do something, have to have him clear waivers.
That way, the Rays, and any other teams, can negotiate freely with the Dodgers, seeking to get some relief on the salary owed in return for better prospects.
The path to get him on waivers is difficult, and that's in addition to the risk of having to take on the full salary if the Dodgers just opt to let him go.
The other NL teams would have to pass, as well as several other interested AL teams who have priority over the Rays — the White Sox, Rangers and Twins (who all could want him), and the Red Sox (more concerned about him going elsewhere). And, depending on the standings, the Yankees (who could look at it both ways). Whoever gets the claim has a couple of days to work a deal.
Oh, and Ramirez, with a full no-trade clause, would have to approve any deal in either case.
Would it be a good idea for the Rays?
With their loose clubhouse, significant Latin presence and manager Joe Maddon's easy-going style, it would seem to be a good fit. Plus, they only need him to hit, which he still does well: .317, with a .409 on-base and .516 slugging percentage.
Ramirez, in theory, should be motivated to compete against the Yankees and Red Sox, and the chance to boost his future value on the October stage.
Most likely, they won't get the chance. But if they do, why not?