Erasmo Ramírez joins Tigers on Minors pact

January 19th, 2021

The Tigers have fielded a diverse roster of players from all over the world, especially over the last 20 years, but they’ve never had a Nicaraguan-born player. That could change this year if makes Detroit’s pitching staff.

The Tigers added to their pitching depth on Tuesday by signing Ramírez to a Minor League contract that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. The well-traveled right-hander will compete for a spot in big league camp, but could also serve as in-season help if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster.

Ramírez fills a need for a Tigers team looking for pitchers who can cover innings as new manager A.J. Hinch tries to stretch pitchers’ workloads from last year’s 60-game schedule to a 162-game season without risking major injuries. Ramírez has been a starter for most of his nine-year Major League career, including an 11-win season for the Rays in 2015, but has worked out of the bullpen the last two seasons.

After one long relief appearance with the Red Sox in 2019, Ramírez spent last September working out of the bullpen with the Mets, tossing 14 1/3 innings with one run on eight hits, four walks and nine strikeouts. He covered five solid innings against the Phillies on Sept. 7, then picked up a three-inning save four days later against the Blue Jays.

Ramírez no longer boasts a mid-90s fastball in his arsenal, but succeeded last year on his sinker-cutter combination, comprising about 79 percent of his pitches thrown. He yielded a hard-hit rate of 40 percent and a 91.1 mph average exit velocity, but opponents hit just .163 against him.

The Tigers have had a binge of Minor League signings in recent weeks, but most have not included invites to big league camp. Former Tigers lefty reliever Ian Krol received a Major League invite, but Robbie Ross Jr., Andrew Moore, Miguel Del Pozo, Henry Martinez, Locke St. John and Yunior Perez did not. Former Marlins starter José Ureña signed a Major League contract and is expected to fill a spot in Detroit’s rotation.