Mariners May Face Tough Decision on Erasmo Ramirez
On the heels of a stretch of good baseball, Erasmo Ramirez couldn’t find his command against the Angels in his most recent start. Giving up 3 home runs in 4 innings matched his tater total over his previous 6 starts and served as a sobering return to reality where a largely lost season may put his second stint with Seattle in jeopardy.
The typically healthy Erasmo Ramirez finally broke down in 2018 and missed significant time with a couple lengthy DL stints — both for injuries to his throwing shoulder. Consequently, he has thrown just 43 IP over 9 starts and pitched to a 5.65 ERA. He has -0.5 fWAR/-0.2 bWAR/0.1 WARP on the season, and without a couple brilliant performances to close out the year, these numbers are not going to improve.
Talent-wise, he isn’t a replacement level pitcher though. Below average? Sure. But a guy like him can provide some useful innings to a club, especially one as starved for starting pitching as the Mariners. Yet despite coming into this year penciled in as the #4 starter, Ramirez has not inspired any more confidence in himself and with a career year from Wade LeBlanc essentially in the books and Felix Hernandez likely given every chance to start in 2019, he will rightfully begin lower on the Mariners’ depth chart next year.
That is if they keep him around.
In his fourth and final year of arbitration, Ramirez will seek a raise on his $4.2 million salary, and given his checkered health and performance this season, the Mariners shouldn’t be too eager to keep him around.
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Whether he can be a useful starter/swingman on next year’s roster could be almost a $5 million question for Jerry Dipoto. Although the Mariners seemingly need any arm they can get their hands on, that is a lot to pay for depth, and that is all you can guarantee Ramirez will be at this point.
Following his return to health and a move toward the first base side of the rubber, Ramirez has pitched quite well outside of two duds, yet while much of his performance has been promising, those slip-ups when he lost his command cannot just be thrown out. He did temper his home run rate for a bit, but a trio of bombs from Trout, Ohtani, and Upton in his most recent start remind us that, unfortunately, the long ball and blow-ups are part of what Erasmo is. He won’t always have his command, and he just can’t survive without it.
Through his ups and downs, you can tease apart some brilliant moments from the still young hurler, but this is a guy who has a 5.01 ERA over his last 143.2 IP as a starter and spent roughly two-thirds of this year on the DL for shoulder-related issues. Investing upwards of $4.2 million in him could again prove an ill-fated venture.
Now, finding a trade partner for a possible non-tender candidate will likely be problematic, but he could, of course, just be non-tendered. In that case, he would be off the books entirely, ending this reunion rather unceremoniously, but the Mariners could then invest that capital freely.
It wouldn’t be unwise to keep Erasmo Ramirez around in the sense that the Mariners need starting pitching options, but arguably, their money could be better spent elsewhere.
All stats referenced prior to games on 09/16/18