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MLB trade deadline: Why did the Rays deal Erasmo Ramirez?

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Ramirez was beloved on the team, so why deal him now?

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays surprised this morning when they traded rubberman Erasmo Ramirez to the Seattle Mariners.

The playoff hungry Mariners have been in need of rotation help, and Erasmo Ramirez was likely one of the most affordable starters out there, even if he has not fulfilled that role often for the Rays this year.

Erasmo Ramirez’s best year with the Rays was in 2015 when he pitched out of the rotation, but his ability to pitch any day of the week made him the go-to longman for the Rays the following season. Since then, the Rays have continued to have a greater need for bullpen arms than starters.

Ramirez had not been in the Rays clubhouse last night for the extra inning loss to the Yankees, when the team had to call upon rookie Andrew Kittredge to pitch multiple innings. He allowed the game winning home run to Brett Gardner. Kittredge was optioned this afternoon.

In the end, the Mariners dealt from the strength of their bullpen to add from the strength of the Rays rotation, which will return Matt Andriese and add prospect Brent Honeywell over the next year. Since allowing three runs in his second outing of the season (May 16 vs. Oakland), following his return from offseason hip-surgery, Steve Cishek has crafted a 1.86 ERA (19.1-IP, 4-ER) over 21 appearances.

For the Rays, Cishek is an immediate upgrade in an area of need, an elite arm to face right handed hitting. Meanwhile, the team will have plenty of fallback options for a longman to fill Erasmo’s role in Matt Andriese, Austin Pruitt, and Chase Whitley.

Erasmo was nearly dealt by the Rays in the offseason due to his ability to pitch well out of a rotation, but the team instead retained the player, who is known as a positive clubhouse presence.

Ramirez started eight games for the Rays in 2017, having pitched just shy of 70 innings this season with a career best 19.5% strikeout rate and 5.7% walk rate over 26 appearances. Erasmo was originally traded to the Rays from the Mariners before the 2015 season.

In three seasons for the Rays, Ramirez went 22-20 with a 3.98 ERA (323.1-IP, 143-ER) in 124 games (36 starts). He ranks fourth all-time among Nicaraguan-born pitchers with 171 career appearances.

Read More about Erasmo Ramirez’s career with the Rays:

- Erasmo Ramirez is the Ben Zobrist of pitchers

- Erasmo Ramirez helped anchor the Rays rotation in 2015