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Farewell, Erasmo!

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Ramirez’s flexibility made him a valuable member of the pitching staff

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Erasmo Ramirez came to the Rays in a 2015 trade for relief pitcher Mike Montgomery. He leaves us with a stat line that will not turn any heads — 3.98 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 6.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9. Yet, he was one the team’s most valuable members over two and a half seasons.

Erasmo Ramirez came to the Rays just days before the start of the 2015 season. What had been a solid rotation was looking shaky with Matt Moore still recovering from Tommy John surgery and both Drew Smyly and Alex Cobb starting the year on the disabled list (Cobb would eventually need TJS himself).

The Nicaraguan-born Ramirez had enjoyed a good career start with Seattle but had stumbled after his 2012 debut, moving between Triple-A and the big leagues. Silverman traded for Ramirez as someone who could benefit from #TheHickeyEffect and was capable of contributing at the back end of the rotation.

We first saw him in the last pre-season game and he looked good.

But then the season started and the wheels came off.

His first starts were historically bad. On April 10 he allowed 7 earned runs over 2 innings to the Miami Marlins. On April 15 he yielded 8 earned runs over 3.1 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.

I’ll admit it, for that first month merely the mention of his name gave me unwanted heart palpitations. He’s not as bad as he looked, insisted Rays brass and some of our more even-keeled DRB contributors. And indeed after those awful two games he settled down to become a pretty reliable starter. By mid-May his 31.00 ERA was down below 10.00.

He spent 2015 almost entirely as a starter, and in 2016 was transitioned to the bullpen with the occasional spot start, a role he has continued to play. He’s functioned as long man, he’s been called on for high-leverage holds, he’s closed out games.

He also became a player who was hard not to love.

Indeed, one the reasons he was so valuable for the Rays was that he could be used flexibly and would give his all, without whining, whatever role he was asked to play. No insistence that he have a defined role; no drama about messing with his routine; no pouting or tweeting his discontent.

In the clubhouse, in interviews, sitting in the dugout, Ramirez always had a broad smile. He was a major leaguer who didn’t stop feeling that he was happy to be here (and I had read somewhere that he had to train himself to stop smiling while he pitched).

He makes $3.125 million this year, with two arbitration years ahead. This makes him relatively expensive for the Rays, with Chase Whitley and possibly Nathan Eovoldi capable of filling his role over this and next season. As a result, he was probably seen as expendable.

He is one of those Rays players, however, to whom we can sincerely wish continued success.