Erasmo Ramirez was not going to pitch for the Seattle Mariners this year. At least, barring something catastrophic he wasn’t. With his last minor league option being used during the 2014 season, Ramirez would have to be exposed to waivers if the Mariners wanted to send him to the minors, and he certainly wouldn’t have cleared. So Seattle did the most logical thing: picked-up the value that was available.
Mike Montgomery, acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Ramirez was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals back in 2008.
The left-hander spent the first six years of his professional career working as a starter in the Royals organization and spent all of 2013 and 2014 working at Triple-A for the Rays after being included in the Wil Myers/James Shields trade. Montgomery has battled injury and ineffectiveness over the last couple years, though his recent minor league walk and home run rates aren’t particularly ugly.
Montgomery, who will turn 26 in July, has a solid fastball — which has reportedly touched 96 miles per hour in recent relief stints — and changeup that is an effective compliment. Despite having two very usable pitches, the absence of at least average secondary stuff has limited Montgomery. He’s utilized a slider and curveball but both are below average and given his age, probably don’t have much room to improve.
In the Mariners organization Montgomery will become another relief option that serves as depth at Tacoma. There is some upside that could be capitalized upon in short stints, and with David Rollins suspended 80 games for PED use, the deal gives the club another short-term option from the left side.
Ramirez had flashed a few moments of intrigue and if he can figure out his command issues profiles as a back-end rotation option, but he’ll be 25 in May and posted a 4.06 walk rate at the big league level in 2015. The upside could be there, and the Rays do have some uncertainty with their rotation. Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Matt Moore all have injury concerns and Nate Karns has limited major league experience. There definitely is opportunity in Tampa Bay if Ramirez is able to take advantage of it.
The value in Montgomery is simple: he can be a left-handed reliever for the big club and still has an option left. If Ramirez was exposed to waivers, he would’ve been picked-up and he simply shouldn’t take a bullpen spot from a reliever that figures to be more valuable to the Mariners in the coming season.
Holding onto Ramirez until the season begins and then trying to sneak him down could have made some sense — it would be less likely he gets claimed on waivers then as opposed to now — but the Mariners decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.
This is the type of deal that we expected the Mariners to make leading up to the Sunday deadline for Opening Day rosters to be announced. And really, there was probably not a better deal for the M’s to make. It may be a flyer, but this could work out to be a strong under-the-radar type of move in a few month’s time.