TORONTO -- The A's are indeed discussing a possible trade with the Miami Marlins for infielder Hanley Ramirez, but the sides are not close on a deal, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed.
Ramirez, a three-time All-Star who was the National League MVP runner-up in 2009, moved to third base this season after playing shortstop for his first six big league seasons.
The A's appear more serious about upgrading at shortstop — they've gotten a combined .184 batting average, four homers and 20 RBIs from the position — than they are at third, so presumably they like Ramirez at short.
Cliff Pennington, who has started most of the season there, is on the disabled list as he recovers from left elbow tendinitis.
Ramirez is a career .300 hitter but he's batting just .246 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs entering Monday.
The A's, who entered Tuesday's game at Toronto in the lead for the A.L.'s second wild card spot, look to be buyers as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches next Tuesday. But fitting Ramirez, 28, in green and gold won't be easy.
He's making $15 million this season and is due $15.5 million in 2013 and $16 million in 2014. That would be a huge financial commitment for the A's to take on, even though they don't have heavy payroll obligations right now.
Figure that the Marlins would have to kick in a significant portion of cash to cover some of Ramirez's contract for the A's to pull the trigger. And that's assuming the A's have the prospects the Marlins are looking for. Several other teams are also interested in Ramirez.
Another potential shortstop for the A's was in the opposing dugout Tuesday night. The Blue Jays' Yunel Escobar is potentially available at a much more reasonable salary. Escobar, 29, is making $5 million and will make the same amount next year. The Blue Jays also hold $5 million options on him for 2014 and 2015.
The A's have been linked to Escobar, whose strength is his excellent defense.
In other news, Double-A outfielder Michael Choice, one of the A's top prospects, is expected to miss the rest of the season with a broken hand after he was struck by a pitch.