It was a deal that was motivated by finances, Reds general manager Nick Krall conceded. Iglesias was due to make $9.125 million in 2021, his final season before he could become a free agent. Ramirez's 2020 contract was $900,000, and he is arbitration-eligible for the second time.
“It’s a move that helps us reallocate resources to be used on different things. That’s how we looked at this,” Krall said. “Everybody has got a budget that they adhere to, but this is not a sign that there is more to come. We’re just looking at everything as a one-off and trying to make the best decisions as they come up and do the best we can with allocating our payroll the best we can.”
It’s possible that the savings from moving Iglesias’ contract could help the Reds sign a shortstop or a starting pitcher. The club would like to bring back free agent Trevor Bauer, but it is not considered a frontrunner for the biggest pitching prize available.
Ramirez, who will turn 31 on Dec. 22, posted a 4.04 ERA in 151 games over the past four seasons with the Angels, and he was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 21 games this past season. He walked nine batters and struck out 14 over his 21 innings.
During the 2019 season, Ramirez was 5-4 with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 51 games -- including seven starts -- and 67 2/3 innings.
“They can expect me not to back down from any challenge,” Ramirez said. “I’m not the hardest thrower, but in my head, I feel like I throw 100 [mph]. Attacking hitters and competing is my bread and butter for sure.”
Iglesias, who turns 31 next month, had a 2.74 ERA and eight saves over 22 games in 2020 in a nice bounce-back season from ’19. That year, he set a franchise record among relievers in losses while going 3-12 with a 4.16 ERA but a career-high 34 saves in 68 appearances.
Initially signed out of Cuba for $32 million in 2014 by Cincinnati, Iglesias had a 3.15 ERA and 106 saves over six seasons. Originally a starter for the team until he encountered shoulder problems, he became the full-time closer in 2017.
“He had a great year last year,” Krall said. “A good guy on your club. We definitely wish him the best, but we felt this was the best move for our team right now.”
Trading Iglesias is the latest cost-cutting move the Reds have made in recent days. Last week, Cincinnati non-tendered five players -- including late-inning reliever Archie Bradley, who could have been the closer without Iglesias. Krall did not rule out trying to sign Bradley, who was acquired from Arizona for utility player Josh VanMeter and outfield prospect Stuart Fairchild at the Trade Deadline.
When asked, Krall did not characterize the recent decisions as a rebuilding situation for the Reds. Cincinnati was 31-29 in 2020 and reached the postseason for the first time since 2013.
“I think we still have a solid core to our club, and this is a move that we made to reallocate some money,” he said.
The Reds' bullpen lacks an experienced closer but has Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen and Tejay Antone among others. Both Lorenzen and Antone are also rotation candidates.
“I think you look at a guy who hasn’t closed and say, ‘Well, can he close? Does he have the mentality?’” Krall said. “Even the best closers had to get an opportunity at some point. Michael saved some games in the past. Lucas showed the ability to get outs in tough situations along with Amir last year. I think you just look at it and take it one game at a time with what you have. There’s still two months left in the offseason.”
Ramirez was originally selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2011 Draft out of Cal State Fullerton, where he was teammates with a freshman Lorenzen.
The Angels claimed Ramirez, a Los Angeles-area native, off waivers in August 2017. Now he’s ready for his new team in Cincinnati after getting an early call that he had been dealt.
“First thing in the morning, too," Ramirez said. "It was hard to just wrap my head around it. Now that I’ve settled in and everything is starting to make a lot more sense, it feels good. I’m happy that the Reds obviously had some interest in me. That’s always a good feeling. It’s an interesting time, but I’m excited for it. I’m definitely excited for a change.”