Erasmo Ramirez experienced an uneven 2016 campaign, amassing a career-high 11 losses in the process. He made only one spot start all season despite talk coming out of spring training that he'd serve as an occasional fifth member of the rotation, instead tallying 63 relief appearances. The 26-year-old generated 15 holds, but his K/9 (6.25) saw a drop for a second consecutive season. However, Ramirez was still able to be largely effective in stranding runners, with his 80.7 left-on-base percentage ranking as the highest of his career. Given his ability to gobble up innings, Ramirez's role would presumably be fairly secure coming into 2017, were he not up for arbitration. With the possibility that the five-year veteran could be awarded approximately $4 million as a result of that process, he could well be jettisoned in an effort to free up salary. Landing in a role similar to last year's wouldn't carry much value in the majority of formats.
Ramirez, who took his second loss of spring against the Pirates on Friday, is nevertheless looking refreshed and effective, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The rubber-armed righty gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk over four innings, but also notched four strikeouts. His spring ERA sits at a solid 3.12, and he has looked as good as he did early last season before he succumbed to some fatigue later in the campaign. Ramirez was on a 60-pitch limit against the Pirates but got through his four frames with 58, 39 of which found the strike zone. If he isn't dealt for a right-handed hitting outfielder, Ramirez is expected to be a valuable asset for the Rays in long relief during the coming season.
Ramirez (0-1), who struck out two and gave up three runs (two earned) on one hit and two walks over two innings against the Twins on Friday, has pitched well over two starts despite a 4.50 ERA. The three-run home run Ramirez surrendered to Brian Dozier on Friday is responsible for his 4.50 ERA, as he's been very effective overall. He's also generated a stellar .071 BAA and 1.00 WHIP over this two starts. Ramirez continues to be slated for a relief role to open the season, but the Rays are giving him some run as a starter in spring training in the event the rubber-armed right-hander is called upon for that role in a pinch during the regular season.
Ramirez pitched two scoreless innings in Sunday's 8-2 Grapefruit League win over the Blue Jays, giving up just one walk. He also recorded a strikeout. The versatile hurler made his first appearance of spring and looked smooth, cruising through his two frames against a Blue Jays lineup admittedly devoid of most regulars. Still, it was undeniably a positive start to spring for Ramirez, who had tweaked a hamstring back in mid-February. The 26-year-old was scheduled to alternate between the rotation and bullpen last season as needed but ended up making just one start and logging 63 appearances in relief. Ramirez's ability to eat up innings in the middle of games renders him a particularly valuable component of the Rays staff, and he'll like be deployed in a manner similar to the one that allowed him to secure seven victories, 15 holds and even a pair of saves over 90.7 innings in 2016.
Ramirez did not throw participate in Wednesday's workout after tweaking his hamstring on Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Ramirez says the strain is no big concern, so he likely sat out as a precaution. The right-hander is entering his third season as a reliever for the Rays after posting a 3.77 ERA in a career-high 64 games last year. Consider Ramirez day-to-day as spring training progresses.
Ramirez agreed to a one-year, $3.125 million deal with the Rays on Friday, avoiding arbitration, FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman reports. He received a slight bump from the $2.375 million he made in his first year as an arbitration-eligible player after the 2015 season. The Rays' rotation is slightly less stacked after they traded Drew Smyly to the Mariners, but there has been no indication that Ramirez will be moved out of the bullpen. Look for him to continue to be used in mid-leverage situations, often being used for more than one inning in relief.