The Indians announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed outfielder Harold Ramirez off waivers from the Marlins. Right-hander Jordan Humphreys was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
The 26-year-old Ramirez debuted at the MLB level with the Marlins in May 2019 and posted a superb .368/.419/.474 batting line over his first month of action before his bat cooled off. Ramirez struggled through June and July that year before rebounding, to an extent, in the final two months of the year. Overall, his .276/.312/.416 batting line through 446 plate appearances as a rookie looked to position him well for a lengthier audition in 2020.
That didn’t happen, however, as Ramirez was one of the 20 members of the Marlins organization to test positive for Covid-19 during the team’s outbreak. When he returned from that diagnosis, he sustained a hamstring injury almost immediately and didn’t return from there on. All told, he played in just three games last summer.
Ramirez adds to what has been a consistently jumbled outfield mix for Cleveland over the past few seasons. The Indians brought in former division rival Eddie Rosario on a one-year deal to play left field, and they’ll likely give Oscar Mercado a chance to rebound in center field. Beyond that, playing time ought to be largely up for grabs, and Ramirez should be squarely in the mix, alongside Josh Naylor, Jordan Luplow, Jake Bauers, Bradley Zimmer and Daniel Johnson.
All of those players in that hodgepodge, Ramirez included, have at least one minor league option remaining, so there won’t be any cases of a player winning out solely to avoid a DFA. That should set the stage for a legitimate competition during camp, though Ramirez and Luplow are the only two right-handed bats in the bunch, which could give them an advantage.
Humphreys, 24, has yet to make his big league debut but had a big 2017 season across two Class-A levels in the Mets organization before requiring Tommy John surgery. He allowed just two runs in 13 innings of Rookie ball in 2019 as he rehabbed from that surgery and likely would’ve been ticketed for a Double-A assignment in 2020 had their been a minor league season.
The Mets traded Humphreys to the Giants in exchange for Billy Hamilton, however, and Cleveland eventually picked Humphreys up off waivers. Coincidentally, both Humphreys and Hamilton are with the Indians organization at the moment, as Hamilton inked a minor league deal earlier in the winter.
Cleveland will have a week to trade Humphreys or attempt to pass him through outright waivers. If they can indeed sneak him through waivers, he’d remain in camp as a non-roster invitee and give the club an interesting depth piece. In 169 2/3 professional innings, Humphreys has a 2.60 ERA with an above-average 26.1 percent strikeout rate and a brilliant 4.4 percent walk rate.