The Rays have acquired right-handed pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (eh-RASS-moh) from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery, the former blue chip prospect from the James Shields trade.
Mike Montgomery was in the running for the fifth starter's position this Spring, due to injury and necessity. Earlier in the off-season, the Rays had dedicated the southpaw to relief duty in hopes of reincarnating J.P. Howell for the Rays roster, but a need arose for a swing man in April due to three starting rotation injuries. Now he's off to Seattle in exchange for a more sure thing.
Erasmo Ramirez was the No. 2 starter at the onset of the 2014 season for Seattle, and at 24-years old has three seasons under his belt with a minimum of 14 appearances in each year. Up and down throughout his career thus far, he went 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA (75.1-IP, 44-ER) in 17 games (14 starts) over seven stints last season.
At the minor league level, Erasmo pitched in 16 games with a 3.91 ERA (92-IP, 40-ER). Following the season, then pitched for Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League, going 2-0 with a 0.30 ERA (30-IP, 1-ER) and 22 strikeouts in five starts. In five appearances (four starts) this spring, Ramirez is 1-2 with 13-IP and 9-ER.
In total, over parts of three major league seasons, he is 7-12 with a 4.62 ERA and 4.66 FIP for 206.2 IP and 106-ER n 47 games (35 starts). Originally signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in 2007 from Nicaragua, Ramirez is now slated to become the first Nicaraguan-born player to appear in a game for the Rays.
Montgomery, 25, pitched in six games out of the bullpen this spring, recording a 2.38 ERA (11.1-IP, 3-ER) with one save. The 25-year-old spent the 2014 season with Triple-A Durham, where he went 10-5 with a 4.29 ERA (126-IP, 60-ER) and was named an International League midseason All-Star.
Giving up Montgomery is a high cost for a depleted Rays depth, particularly one without many left handed starters, making this move curious. He was acquired from the Royals on December 9, 2012, as part of a seven-player trade involving James Shields. Montgomery has been chosen by Baseball America as having the best changeup in his organization for four straight season,s with the Rays (2013-14) and Kansas City Royals (2011-12).
Of course, that does not discredit the incredible change up that Ramirez boasts as well. By further contrast, Ramirez has 35 major league starts, while Montgomery is inexperienced at the highest level.
The Rays were said to be investigating options for a fifth starter to bridge the gap to their returning pitchers from injury, with many thoughts given to the free agent market filling up with veteran players released from teams. With that context in mind, Erasmo Ramirez is a better Jhoulys Chacin.
Ramirez is out of options, and will be required to stay at the major league level, likely as the Rays new long man. PECOTA projects a 3.87 ERA and 4.21 FIP for Ramirez in 2015, and lists two intriguing comparable players in Alex Cobb and Justin Grimm. Ramirez is under contract through the 2019 season.