The Pirates announced a series of roster moves prior to tonight’s contest. Right-handed pitcher Yohan Ramirez was acquired from the Guardians for cash considerations and optioned to Triple-A. Infielder Kevin Newman was reinstated from the 60-day injured list. That adds two players to the 40-man roster, which had been at 39. To open up one extra spot, left-hander Aaron Fletcher was designated for assignment. Furthermore, outfielder Bligh Madris was optioned to create room on the active roster for Newman, while right-hander Bryse Wilson was returned to Triple-A after serving as the 27th man during yesterday’s doubleheader. Catcher Tyler Heineman was also transferred from the paternity list to the family medical emergency list.
Ramirez, 27, was designated for assignment by the Guardians earlier this week. He has 58 2/3 innings of MLB experience since the start of the 2020 season, mostly with the Mariners. He fared well enough in 2020 and 2021, putting up a 3.35 ERA with a 29.3% strikeout rate, though that also came with subpar walk and ground ball rates of 15.4% and 25.7%, respectively. A tiny .182 BABIP was likely helping keep his ERA down, though his good luck ran out this year. He ran up a 7.56 ERA in 8 1/3 innings before the Mariners designated him for assignment and then sent him to Cleveland for cash.
The Guardians gave him just a single appearance at the big league level but 10 1/3 innings in Triple-A. His 4.35 ERA with Columbus isn’t awful, but that’s come despite an alarming 22.7% walk rate. The 27-year-old still has options and intriguing strikeout numbers, however, making him a fairly sensible add for a rebuilding Pirates club. They can continue giving him looks in the minors for the rest of this year as well as next year, as long as he continues to hold onto a 40-man roster spot.
As for Fletcher, 26, he’s had some very brief stints at the big league level with the Mariners and Pirates, going from Seattle to Pittsburgh on a waiver claim back in March. Combined, he has 19 2/3 innings of MLB experience with an unfortunate 9.15 ERA in that small sample. This year, his mark is 6.94, significantly better but still not great, though that’s an even smaller sample size of just 11 2/3 frames. He’s fared much better in the minors, throwing 18 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year with a 1.45 ERA. He’s typically been a ground ball pitcher, never racking up huge strikeout numbers at Triple-A or the majors. This year’s no exception, as he has a 55.2% grounder rate and an 11% strikeout rate for Indianapolis.
Left-handed relief is always in demand somewhere, making it likely Fletcher finds some interest from other clubs. He also has another option year remaining after this one, meaning an acquiring club could potentially keep him stashed in the minors as depth for another year and a half. The Bucs will have one week to trade him, pass him through waivers or release him.