The Diamondbacks are close to wrapping up a deal with free-agent reliever Noe Ramirez, reports Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (Twitter link). He elected free agency just two days ago rather than accept an outright assignment with the Angels, who’d designated him for assignment.
Ramirez, 31, was traded from the Angels to the Reds over the winter as part of Cincinnati’s Raisel Iglesias salary dump. He returned to the Halos after the Reds cut him loose late in Spring Training, avoiding the bulk of his arbitration salary in the process. Ramirez allowed a pair of runs in 3 1/3 innings with the Angels this year before being designated for assignment.
Prior to that odd Anaheim-to-Cincinnati-to-Anaheim volley, Ramirez was a fairly steady middle reliever for the Halos. From 2017-20, he pitched 180 1/3 innings of 4.04 ERA ball while recording a 26.4 percent strikeout rate and a 10.5 percent walk rate. Unlike most pitchers in today’s game, Ramirez is a soft-tosser, sitting in the 89-90 mph range with his fastball. Ramirez relies primarily on a changeup to generate swings and misses; he’s finished off 344 plate appearances with that pitch in the big leagues, and opponents are hitting just .195/.227/.289 in those instances. His slider was a decent pitch for him earlier in his career but has been hit hard in recent seasons.
Ramirez hasn’t yet reached four years of big league service time, so in the event that he reaches the Majors and returns to form, he’d be controllable via arbitration through the 2023 season. As Buchanan further notes, this may not be a “minor league” deal for all that long, as the D-backs’ bullpen has struggled to perform while being hit with some injuries as well. Tyler Clippard has yet to throw in 2021 due to a shoulder strain, while Chris Devenski is said to be weighing surgery at the moment. Young righty J.B. Bukauskas just hit the IL due to a flexor strain as well.
Diamondbacks relievers rank 29th in the Majors with a 5.61 ERA, 27th with a 4.81 FIP and 26th with a 4.16 SIERA. They also have the game’s third-lowest collective strikeout rate (21 percent) and sixth-highest homers-per-nine mark (1.49).