Rays News

Rays Acquire Erasmo Ramirez in Exchange for Mike Montgomery

By Robbie Knopf
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Mike Montgomery had a chance to make an impact for the Tampa Bay Rays this year, whether as a starter or reliever. On the other hand, Montgomery certainly came with risk. He pitched quite poorly in his four Triple-A seasons, with his 4.29 ERA in 2014 representing his best year. It seemed unlikely that he could be a viable big league starter, and he was unproven in relief as well.

With those factors in mind, when the Rays saw the chance to trade Montgomery for a pitcher with comparable upside and more certainty, they jumped at the chance. The player they acquired wound up being Erasmo Ramirez, as the Seattle Mariners announced earlier tonight.

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Although Ramirez has 47 big league games (35 starts) to Montgomery’s zero, he is actually nearly a year younger than him as he won’t turn 25 until May. Unlike Montgomery, he is out of options, but that is irrelevant for now as he is lined up to begin the season in the Rays’ rotation. The swap made sense for both teams as the Rays need a starting pitcher to begin 2015 while the M’s wanted a pitcher with some potential to stash in the minor leagues.

After a strong start to his major league career in 2013, Erasmo Ramirez has pitched poorly the last two years, managing just a 5.12 ERA. His 7.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 weren’t so bad, but his 1.5 HR/9 was horrendous. At the very least, though, Ramirez has proven that he can log some innings on baseball’s highest stage, and he also has the upside to be a much better pitcher.

Ramirez is not just your average soft-tosser. He averaged a solid 92.19 MPH on his four-seam fastball last season and pairs it with a very good changeup. Ramirez threw his change only 13% of the time against righties compared to 34% of the time versus lefties, but expect the Rays to immediately start adjusting that. Ramirez’ fastball-changeup combination is a great starting point for him as he hopes to get his career on track.

Erasmo Ramirez also throws a sinker, a slider, and a curveball, and all of them are decent pitches except for one unfortunate thing: he hangs them too often. Though those three pitches accounted for under half of Ramirez’s offerings last season, he somehow allowed 12 of the 13 home runs he allowed all season on those pitches. The Rays will likely have Ramirez throw more four-seam fastballs and reduce his breaking ball usage as much as possible.

Ramirez’s fastball-changeup combination would be enough for relief, and he will almost surely end up in such a role once the Rays’ injured starters come back. In the meantime, the Rays will look to make some changes to his arsenal on the fly and see if he can be an effective rotation option for the short-term.

It is always a little bit sad when a former top prospect departs, but the Rays saw Erasmo Ramirez as a better fit for their current team than Mike Montgomery. They will wish Montgomery the best of luck in the Mariners organization and begin figuring out what Ramirez can give them in 2015 and in years to come.

Next: Rays Spring Game 26: Daniel Robertson Has Game To Remember

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