If there are suitors interested in the 26-year-old right-hander, as FOX Sports senior baseball writer Ken Rosenthal tweeted out Tuesday afternoon, the Rays need to take advantage of the market and sell high without running the risk that Ramirez starts slow and then turns in a subpar 2017 campaign.
Sources: #Rays could trade from pitching depth. Strongest candidate to go: Erasmo Ramirez. $3.2M salary, 3 years control, start or relieve.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 21, 2017
Ramirez signed a one-year deal worth $3.125 million on Jan. 14 a year after pitching on a one-year, $2.375 million contract.
It’s not that Ramirez doesn’t have value in a Rays uniform. Since coming to Tampa Bay from the Seattle Mariners in a spring 2015 trade for Mike Montgomery, he’s stepped up as both a starter and reliever. He’s even closed out a couple games throughout the process. (Fun fact: Montgomery was on the mound in the 10th inning of Game 7 last fall to earn the save and seal the World Series championship for the Chicago Cubs and former Rays manager Joe Maddon.)
Those two full seasons have seen Ramirez go 18-17 with two saves while starting 28 of his 98 appearances. He’s pitched 254 innings, struck out 189 and produced a 3.76 earned run average and an impressive 1.185 walks and hits per innings pitched.
His first year was the better of those two, when Ramirez made 27 of his total starts as a Ray. His move to the bullpen was decided last year when the team began the season with a four-man rotation and needed middle relief help. Things were great when Ramirez started the year 4-0 through the Rays’ first 15 games, but his effectiveness waned as spring turned to summer.
A rough June (13 1/3 innings, 7.43 ERA, eight walks, 10 strikeouts) may have inflated Ramirez’s numbers, but he’s still a 4.14 ERA pitcher over five major-league seasons.
Barring injury, Tampa Bay appears set with a five-man rotation of Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Blake Snell and Matt Andriese. The Rays also have right-handed prospects Jose De Leon and Brent Honeywell waiting for call-ups, followed by fellow righties Jacob Faria and Chih-Wei Hu.
Ramirez may not be A-1 trade bait but he can command a decent return, especially from a contender that feels like they’re an arm or two away from making serious noise this season.