Tigers Potential Trade Target: Ramon Ramirez


According to Ken Rosenthal, the San Francisco Giants are shopping relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Ramon Ramirez, with the intention of moving one of them to clear budget room; they have a ton of money committed to their bullpen and are attempting to reach long-term deals with the cornerstones of their franchise, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. They could also stand to improve their offense, and that’s a severe understatement.

Of the two bullpen guys the Giants have placed on the market, Affeldt is more attractive in name. However, his contract is set to pay him $5 million next year and he’s left-handed. Even if the Tigers could add his salary, they would probably be better served to add a reliable relief option who can consistently get right-handed batters, like those scattered throughout the lineup of the Texas Rangers, out. They could use a veteran who could potentially take the pressure of a late-innings role, or even a roster spot, from the unproven Ryan Perry. Al Alburquerque was a nice option to get righties out for a good portion of this year, but I’m concerned about his ability to stay healthy given his heavy slider use.

Enter Ramon Ramirez. It seems since his first major-league season in 2006 with the Colorado Rockies, he’s been a perpetually underrated pitcher. He’s pitched for the Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, and Giants over the past six years. Overshadowed at each stop, he’s never been used as a full-time closer and has even been relegated from a primary set-up role at various times in his career. That’s not a knock on Ramirez. Rather, it’s a nod to his competition. Regardless, whatever team he ends up with could benefit financially from his relative obscurity.

All of the criteria I outlined above for a Tigers relief target are met by Ramirez. He’ll be 30 years old for the better part of next season and has been around the majors for six years. He had an off year in 2007, his sophomore season, in part due to injury. Other than that, he’s been remarkably consistent. At the end of each of the last four seasons, his ERA has been between 2.64 and 2.99. He’s also maintained a WHIP between 1.139 and 1.335.

He features a low-nineties fastball and complements it with a slider, which he actually uses slightly more often, and a change-up which he goes to about 20% of the time. His main strengths are limiting home runs and inducing ground balls; his GB% this year was 50%, just 1.4 ticks below Rick Porcello. He tends to walk a few batters, but not enough to be a huge issue. He doesn’t strike out a ton either. For comparison, his K/9 of 8.65 this year was just short of Mariano Rivera’s 8.8, while he walked 3.41 batters per nine, a mark exactly triple Rivera’s.

He’s not a flamethrower and won’t generate much fanfare, but he’s definitely a more than capable reliever.

The best part about him from Detroit’s point of view is that he owns right-handed hitters. Over his career, he’s held them to a .202 batting average. This would be an outstanding complement to Phil Coke, who has held left-handed batters to a .224 average for his career. With that pair taking the seventh inning behind Valverde and Benoit, I would be very confident in the Tigers’ bullpen, rounded out by two of Perry, Schlereth, and Alburquerque, along with a long reliever.

Ramirez is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and MLB Trade Rumors projected him to earn $2.3 million next year, up from $1.65 million this year. For the sake of discussion, let’s say he is actually awarded closer to $3 million. Can the Tigers take on that salary? Probably. Another reliever they’ve shown interest in is Octavio Dotel, who will probably make around $4 million.

Assuming they can take him on from a financial aspect, the question becomes whether Detroit can afford to part with whatever the Giants will want back. I’m not sure if San Francisco would settle for a prospect in exchange for Ramirez, a move which, from their perspective, would be for the sole purpose of clearing payroll, or if they would require a cost-controlled offensive contributor. Maybe Dombrowski could send some cash along with a minor leaguer. Maybe I’m crazy.

If the price is right, though, I see Ramirez as an intriguing candidate to join the Tigers’ relief corp.

Tags: Al Alburquerque Jeremy Affeldt Phil Coke Ramon Ramirez Ryan Perry San Francisco Giants

  • Sam Genson

    Not to pick at nits Garret, but you are worried about Al Al given his slider usage and yet suggest we acquire a guy who also relies quite a bit on his slider. I am not saying Ramirez woudl be a poor option (in fact, he sounds like yet another gem) the reasoning between the two is just a bit sketchy.

    (and yes, Ramirez has shown a bit of durability compared to Al Al, I am just saying…sliders)

    • garretkc

      @Sam Genson You’re right, I should have touched more on why I believe Ramirez is a more reliable option.

      Alburquerque uses his slider more than half the time, while Ramirez limits his slider usage to about 40% (according to The Bill James Handbook 2012; Texas Leaguers says he only throws it 30.8% of the time). While I haven’t studied either pitcher’s delivery, I’m fairly confident taking a stab that a slider with 7.43 vertical and -5.26 horizontal movement (Alburquerque) is tougher on the arm than one with 3.83 and 0.97 (Ramirez) (pitchfx.texasleaguers.com). Finally, Ramirez has proven himself by staying mostly healthy for six years, while Al has been around only one.

      I didn’t want to expound on the whole Alburquerque thing in this post too much because my stance on him is probably better saved for its own post.

      • Sam Genson

        @garretkc Thanks garret. I was pretty sure what you were getting at, but was not sure some of our readers would see the difference.

  • valordesign

    Very well done, you hit the nail on the head. He keeps the ball low, seldomly gives up the long ball, and righties struggle against him. He may give up walks here and there, but he seems to work his way out of the jams.

    He would be a great asset for the playoffs. One of the biggest reason I like him is he has proven himself in high pressure situations. I have been living in the bay area the past few years, and have caught a fair share of Giants games and unlike Perry, Schlereth, or sometimes Coke, I wouldn’t have to cringe to see him coming out in key situations. He is the type of pitcher that is always trying to just catch the outside corner, even against moderate hitters, he doesn’t seem to give in, thus the reason he’ll tend to give up some walks. On the other hand, I don’t see much hard contact against him and is good to neutralize the right handed power bat.

    I am hoping DD is on the same page on this. He seems to be the most undervalued under-the-radar relief option, depending on what the Giants expect to get in return for him. Get him and you have a solid 7th, 8th, and 9th to work with, and enough enough potential to round out the rest of the bullpen.

  • ChrisHannum

    I’d rather have Ramirez than Perry in the role that Perry has been occupying, and I’m sure that sentiment would be almost unanimously seconded by anyone and everyone who reads this blog. As far as whether Ramirez is worth the cost (or any free agent), that is something we just don’t know. I don’t know that I’d want to give up – for example – Austin Wood to get him and Austin Wood is far from the cream of Tigers’ pitching prospects. Somebody else could be had for slightly more money but no prospect cost at this point and I think that would be better for the team. Now… if SF would take Ryan Perry for him…

    • garretkc

      @ChrisHannum If it’s just about the money, maybe they would take Perry. That would be an awesome deal.

    • JAYRC_MCB

      @ChrisHannum I feel ya but don’t sleep on Austin Wood. Very solid in his first full-season back last year. I get what you’re saying though.

      Great idea Garret!

  • orgonedonor

    Hi Garret,

    Big Giants fan here to pass on a few more thoughts having seen the guy throw at least 70 or so of his 95 IP with the Gints.

    Ramon Ramirez is about as good as a 7th inning guy as you can find. If you can find somebody better, he’s wasted in the 7th inning. He does pretty well in high-pressure situations, and can carry tie games and one-run leads through an inning or more if needed–he’s good for 2-5 outs any given time, and is pretty good at getting LHH out too (only .730 or so career OPS).

    But he isn’t quite as good when the game is on the line. While closers like Wilson and Valverde will let runners get on base and be in a tight jam in the 9th, they usually wiggle out of it and get the save more often than not. Ramirez can still get out of these jams–ESPECIALLY when it was somebody else’s fault–but he’s more likely to lose some control or give up a run-scoring hit while under the pressure of the game riding on him in the 9th or later than a guy like Wilson or Valverde is.

    Pretty much just stating what we all know: he’s a surprisingly good relief arm who is a strong option in the 7th and 8th innings, especially for power RHH, but not the guy you want to make your closer unless you really don’t have anybody better.

    As for trading for him, I think the Giant’s really don’t mind paying him $2.3m–that’s not much money. But they’re already spending more on their bullpen than their lineup (which only has two free agents so far, 3 arb-eligibles, and everybody else is at the minimum), and they would like to shift that money away from the bullpen and towards a bat.

    The Giants also have every intention of contending in 2012–they are a very good team as is, and if they’re trading a member of their 25-man roster, they want somebody back who is going to take his place.

    While it’s very possible the Giants would deal Ramirez in a 1-for-1, they might need to build a package around him and include an infielder like Keppinger or Fontenot, and (every Giants fan would go crazy if this happened) Andres Torres. They also are generally willing to part with their prospects that don’t have their names written into the 2012 or 2013 roster.

  • orgonedonor

    What do the Giants want:

    RHH bats that can either play the outfield or SS/2B. If the guy is in the outfield, power is a must. If a guy costs a bit more than he should, or has some warts, but the Giants like him, that’s the sort of player they’d go for.

    I have to imagine their ideal target is a guy like Jed Lowrie, Maicer Izturius, or Alberto Callaspo. For all the handwringing by Giants fans, they have a pretty good roster and the lineup is largely set, although they need somebody to backup Freddy Sanchez and be able to play SS, preferably everyday or at least able to platoon with the LHH web-gem creator Brandon Crawford.

    Among Tiger’s players, Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn would probably be the most attractive. Delmon Young is another guy they might like. Except for Delmon Young and his bloated arb salary, the other guys are in all likelihood worth more than Ramirez and would require other players.

    But all in all, good article and we’ll see what happens!

    • garretkc

      @orgonedonor

      Thanks for all the great insight! Love to hear from people who are closer than I to players I write about from other teams.

      Raburn seems to fit what you’re talking about best, as he can play not only in the middle infield, but in the outfield as well. He has a bit of power as well. As a Tigers fan, I would jump at that deal, especially it turned out the Giants would throw in Keppinger or a similar commodity.

      • orgonedonor

        @garretkc@orgonedonor

        Ryan Rayburn and Ramon Santiago are both desirable to the Giants, the question is whether either is considered expendable by the Tigers (which will largely depend on who they sign or trade for to play 2B/SS, I would suppose).

        Ramon Ramirez has consistently put up 1.0 bWAR as a reliever, which is pretty good, and of course WAR between relievers and position players are treated on separate value planes, but my feeling is that Ramirez would not be enough for Rayburn (especially b/c he has two more years of arb), maybe enough for Santiago since he’s signed to a to year contract (although it would be odd to trade him after just having signed him).

        Keppinger is absolutely expendable to the Giants; they want a backup for Freddy Sanchez, but do not want to pay the guy $4m unless he’s going to play other positions too. Given how cheap the Giants lineup is outside of Aubrey Huff, if a guy is making the 3rd or 4th most among position players, he should be playing every day for them.

        I know little about the Tigers other than watching them in the playoffs and having a soft spot for Detroit teams and any team that also wears Orange and Black. But do you think a swap of Rayburn for Keppinger and Ramon Ramirez is a plausible trade?

        It might just be time to set up a conference call!

        • garretkc

          @orgonedonor I do think it’s very plausible. That said, the Tigers have always seemed to value Raburn much more than I do, and even if we got Keppinger back, it would likely mean more playing time for Santiago, who the Tigers don’t view as capable of playing close to every day.

        • valordesign

          @orgonedonor@garretkc I would be all over that trade if I were DD. This is would be a solid trade though for both teams as I could see Raburn really filling in the Giants needs nicely. Although, I think Sabean might look for a little something more.

        • valordesign

          @orgonedonor@garretkc Unfortunately, doesn’t look like its gonna happen: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/12/mets-close-to-making-trade.html

          Still early, but I have been disappointed at how slow and unsubstantial DD has been this offseason. Even a team with the talent of Texas is still active on the market. This could’ve rounded out very nicely our bullpen and given them an under-the-rader impact player on the cheap.

        • orgonedonor

          @valordesign@orgonedonor@garretkc I’m extremely disappointed with the trade that just happened. I loved Andres, and am furious we gave up RamRam, who would’ve been a good piece to get a guy like Raburn or Santiago, to get Angel Pagan, who is basically Andres Torres 3 years younger and costs half as much. Also, SF doesn’t win the 2010 WS without Torres. Heartbreaking trade. Andres was one of the team’s most beloved players, outside of Lincecum, Cain, Posey, Panda.

  • orgonedonor

    Ramirez’s finest moment as a Giant might have been nailing Shane Victorino and starting a brawl. Eli Whiteside gave a great boxer impression too.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110806&content_id=22819452

    I was raised in Hawaii, but man, I’ve always hated Shane Victorino. Who would you most like to see Ramirez bean in a blow-out to start a brawl?

    • garretkc

      @orgonedonor Derek Jeter, maybe. Guy is a great ball player, but that smirk of his just drives me nuts.

      • orgonedonor

        @garretkc Haha, with you. I hate him only a little more than I respect him.

  • ChrisHannum

    Well… looks like this train has sailed. Apparently what the Giants wanted was ‘NOT ANDRES TORRES’.

    • garretkc

      @ChrisHannum I can’t help feeling the Tigers missed out here. Raburn is cheaper, more versatile, and team-controlled for longer than Pagan. He’s also an overall better hitter, though Pagan does provide some speed. The Tigers wouldn’t have asked for Torres back, either. I’m sure they would have taken Raburn for Ramirez and Keppinger.

      • orgonedonor

        @garretkc@ChrisHannum I have to agree. I wish the Tigers had gotten in on this, because Sabean has this problem of jumping the gun when he decides he wants something. The guy can draft–can’t knock him there–but his trading shows a serious impatience that not only cost us either Ramon Ramirez or Torres here, but Zack Wheeler in the Beltran trade. Awful.

        I’ve turned around on the trade a little bit though; they no longer saw Torres as a starter and thought he needed to go somewhere else to succeed, even though the fans (as well as everybody in the organization) in SF absolutely loved him. After the World Series in 2010 there was a team conference where they asked Andres what he most thankful for and he started crying in front of everybody. How can you not love that? Athletes don’t do that!

        And after 5 outfielders got hurt last year, I can’t blame the Giants for wanting to stack the outfield with options, especially in CF, and allow either Pagan, Huff, Melky, or Schierholtz to regress or get hurt and still be able to field a competitive team/outfield by putting Belt in the mix.

        That said, I think that the Mets fleeced the Giants in this trade. Andres is under control for 2 years, and costs 1/2 as much in arb as Pagan in his final year of team control. RamRam was a good reliever and trade chip; guys with consistent sub-3.00 ERAs and 1WAR seasons are pretty good guys to have in the bullpen and Rayburn would have had more to offer to the Giants and their need to have a reasonable back-up for Freddy Sanchez at 2B and a righthanded bat that can play the outfield corners.

      • orgonedonor

        @garretkc@ChrisHannum

        All that said, the Giants still have a pretty stacked bullpen, with a top-tier relief arm in Heath Hembree who they are likely to make room for this year. Santiago Casilla would cost significantly more in a trade than RamRam, but he’s better in my mind and was a pretty good fill-in closer when Brian Wilson got hurt last year. The Giants are also re-signing Guillermo Mota to be their long-man/SP meltdown/6th inning guy, which he excelled at last year.

        Finally, Dan Runzler is also possibly available, although he has a lot of upside to sell low on as a lefty with 4 pitches that can hit 95 regularly. But check his FIP out: it’s good. Given that the Gints already have Lopez and Affeldt signed up and trust them far more, Runzler would be traded in the right deal. Arms from the Giants farm carry a brand name, it seems.

        So would you guys be interested in Casilla or Runzler? What do you think Detroit would pay for them? Both have significantly more value than RamRam due to years of control and quality of their pure stuff being much better.

        A couple other options are Hector Correa and Dan Otero who are AA/AAA guys, but profile as 7th/8th inning guys and are ready for the task now.