The Red Sox are nearing a minor league agreement with right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link). If the deal is completed, the ISE Baseball client would head to Major League Spring Training and compete for a spot on Boston’s 2019 staff.
Ramirez, 28, should be a familiar name for Red Sox fans after spending parts of three seasons with the Rays and pitching to a combined 3.98 ERA in 323 1/3 innings with the Tampa Bay organization. Unfortunately for the right-hander, the 2018 campaign was effectively a nightmare. Shoulder troubles limited Ramirez to just 45 2/3 innings of work, and he was woefully ineffective in that time.
Ramirez, pitching in his second stint with the Mariners organization this past season, posted a 6.50 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, a staggering 2.76 HR/9 and a 39.6 percent ground-ball rate. The effects of the injury on Ramirez were evident when looking at his velocity; after sitting at 91.6 mph with his heater a year prior, his average fastball in 2018 checked in at just 89.8 mph. Those red flags prompted the Mariners to outright Ramirez rather than retain him through arbitration. He’d been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn a $4.4MM salary in his final trip through that process.
Certainly, the Red Sox will hope for a healthier version of Ramirez — the version who proved adept as both a starter and a multi-inning reliever prior to the 2018 season during a separate stint with the Mariners and a two-and-a-half year run in Tampa. From 2015-17, Ramirez logged a solid 3.97 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.21 HR/9 and a 47.3 percent grounder rate. Both his 10.3 percent swinging-strike rate and 32.9 percent opponents’ chase rate were solid marks that underscore his ability to keep hitters off balance when he’s at his best.
While the Sox won’t be counting on Ramirez for anything unless he proves capable of a show of faith in Spring Training, he can serve as a long option in the ’pen or a depth piece in the rotation beyond Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez. Ramirez is just shy of six years of MLB service, so if he makes the roster, he’ll be a one-year option before reentering free agency next offseason.