Angels right-hander J.C. Ramirez will miss the remainder of the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, GM Billy Eppler tells reporters (Twitter link via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). The procedure will be performed next Tuesday.
Ramirez, 29, was largely successful in his conversion from the bullpen to the rotation in 2017, tossing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball for the Halos while averaging 6.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9 to go along with a strong 51.4 percent ground-ball rate. Ramirez had never started a big league contest prior to the 2017 season but took the ball to open the game on 24 occasions in addition to three relief appearances.
Whether it was a case of correlation or causation, that significant hike in workload ended with Ramirez hitting the 60-day disabled list due to an elbow strain, which was later reported to be a small tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Ramirez received a platelet-rich plasma injection and stem-cell therapy on his right elbow in hopes of avoiding a surgical procedure that would’ve wiped out his entire 2018 season anyhow, but those treatments didn’t prove sufficient.
With Ramirez on the shelf for the remainder of the year and plenty of uncertainty surrounding righty Matt Shoemaker at present, the Angels have taken a pair of early hits to their starting pitching depth. They still have Shohei Ohtani, Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano, Parker Bridwell and Jaime Barria as options, though the majority of those arms have all had some form of medical issue within the past year or two. Given the team’s fast start and some early cracks in the rotation foundation, it stands to reason that the Halos will be connected to pitching upgrades over the next few months as the non-waiver deadline draws nearer.
As for Ramirez, he’ll earn his full $1.9MM salary for the 2018 season and accrue big league service time while he mends on the disabled list. He’ll be eligible for arbitration once again this winter and shouldn’t command much of a raise, if any at all, after starting just two games and pitching 6 2/3 total frames. The Angels will have to make the call, then, whether they prefer to pay him around $2MM for the 2019 campaign or cut him loose via non-tender and perhaps try to bring him back on a minor league deal. The Angels control Ramirez through 2021, so there’s some added appeal to keeping him on the roster and paying a small price for his rehab season.