Here is a potential opportunity for Cubs GM Jim Hendry to take advantage of a first-place team by tempting them with an injury-prone and overpaid third baseman who may interest a team like the Braves, who are trying to win a World Series in manager Bobby Cox’ last season.

We all know that Hendry needs payroll flexibility and while Ramirez has had an awful season, his track record, assuming he’s healthy, could actually interest another team.

Chipper Jones is out for the season with a torn ACL, and if the Cubs place Ramirez on waivers, the Braves could have him if they take on his remaining salary — no players in return are necessary.

So who would play third base for the Cubs next season if this happens?

Who cares?

The team is not going to be a contender anyway so they might as well either promote Josh Vitters to join likely new manager Ryne Sandberg or they could sign someone like Adrian Beltre with the money they would be saving by moving the bloated contract of Ramirez. 

Ramirez has a $14.6 million player option that he is certain to pick up after the season, given his .228/.286/.423 slash this season. He will also be owed a $2 million buyout for 2012 and a one million assignment bonus if traded.

Will the Braves be stupid enough to do this?

Maybe not, but it’s worth a try since teams often do desperate things in a pennant race, especially when they are trying to win in Bobby Cox’ last season as a manager.

Perhaps being in the playoff hunt will rejuvenate Ramirez, who knows? Sure, it’s somewhat far-fetched, but with salaries owed to guys like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano for a long time, Hendry needs to consider almost anything that will bring salary relief.

Meanwhile, the Braves could use Eric Hinske, the former Cub, at third, along with Martin Prado and Omar Infante. If they choose to go outside the organization for help at the hot corner, Chone Figgens and Brandon Inge could be available.

But the Cubs need to at least do their due diligence and kick the tires on the possibility of moving Ramirez.

Hendry’s desire to win, to impress new owner Tom Ricketts, along with his irrational belief that his team is close to being a contender next season, will unfortunately prevent this from happening. That is yet another reason Hendry should have been fired already.

A new GM having Ricketts’ blessing to rebuild the club would be much more willing to make a bold move like this.

It may be a moot point given Atlanta’s reputation as sharp talent evaluators, but again, why not at least give this a try?

Oh yes, I forgot, Hendry is good friends with Ramirez. Never mind.

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