The Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays continued to be the best of trade buddies this morning when Seattle sent reliever Steve Cishek down south for reliever/spot-starter/old-friend/whatever-you-need-him-to-be Erasmo Ramirez.
The #Mariners have acquired RHP Erasmo Ramirez from Tampa Bay in exchange for RHP Steve Cishek.— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) July 28, 2017
It was a peculiar trade, as both teams are in the hunt for what likely will end up being the same playoff spot, but it manages to fill a need: the Rays get a reliever and the Mariners get another someone who can throw a baseball in a non-disastrous way.
Ramirez–who was in the Mariners organization from 2008 to 2014–has been up and down over three seasons with the Rays. After putting together a strong 2015 campaign in which he totaled 2.3 fWAR and a 3.88 xFIP over 163.1 innings, he posted an ugly -0.4 fWAR with a 4.38 xFIP working almost exclusively as a reliever in 2016.
He’s been so-so in 2017, sitting on a 4.80 ERA and 4.13 xFIP with 55 strikeouts (7.14 K/9) and 16 walks (2.08 BB/9) over 69.1 innings. A lot of the ugliness in his numbers stems from the two or three disastrous outings he’s endured this year, including an appearance in mid-June in which he surrendered 10 runs (8 earned) in 4.2 innings.
From an arsenal standpoint, the biggest change for Ramirez this year has been in his frequent use of his cutter. After breaking one out in 2016, he has upped the usage to 26.17%. This has led to decreases in usage with his other fastballs, as his four-seam (8.89%) and sinker (31.74%) have both experienced heavy drop-offs from last year to now.
The good news here is that Erasmo Ramirez, for all of his faults, brings to the table a more interesting skillset at this exact moment than just about every other option the Mariners have for the rotation outside of James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, and Ariel Miranda.
Going away will be Steve Cishek, who struggled to find his groove after returning from a hip injury in 2017. In 20 innings, the wacky-wailing-inflatable-arm-flailing-tube-man put up an ugly 2.14 K/BB ratio (15 strikeouts, 7 walks) and never quite looked the same as he did in 2016. He was better in recent weeks, but a trade for David Phelps and the emergence of Emilio Pagan makes the need for a ROOGY-type pitcher far smaller.
Of course, 20 innings is nothing and Cishek could get back to his old ways down the stretch, but the primary point here is that the Mariners aren’t giving up a dominant late-inning reliever in an attempt to throw more stuff at the (rotation) wall in the hopes it will stick.
With Cishek set to be a free agent after this year and Ramirez still possessing multiple years of club control, this seems like a perfectly fine trade at face value.
All of us here at LL are wishing the best of luck to Steve Cishek in Tampa Bay. The fan base got a teensy bit angry at him when he blew that save on national television last year, but he was largely fine and dandy.
As for Ramirez: