Yankees surprise with trade of lefty reliever Nick Ramirez

Yankees trade reliever Nick Ramirez to Dodgers for cash on April 2, 2024.

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The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday that they have traded left-handed reliever Nick Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations.

Nick Ramirez, a 34-year-old southpaw, spent the entire 2023 season with the Yankees. He compiled a respectable 2.66 ERA in 40.2 innings pitched, allowing 23 hits, 15 runs (13 earned), and walking only seven batters while striking out 14.

This trade likely coincides with the Yankees’ recent acquisition of right-handed pitcher Jake Cousins from the Chicago White Sox. With Cousins needing a spot on the 40-man roster and the presence of established lefties Victor Gonzalez and Caleb Ferguson already occupying spots on the active 26-man roster, Ramirez appears to have become expendable.

Nick Ramirez, a veteran of 96 career appearances, owns a career ERA of 4.04 across 151.1 innings pitched. While he provided solid relief for the Yankees in 2023, the team opted to prioritize roster flexibility and potentially integrate the newly acquired Cousins into their bullpen mix.

Are the Yankees right in getting rid of Nick Ramirez?

Nick Ramirez during a Yankees training

The Yankees’ decision to trade Nick Ramirez raises questions considering his consistent performance last season and a promising spring training showing.

The 34-year-old southpaw played a valuable role in manager Aaron Boone’s bullpen throughout 2023, pitching 40⅔ innings with an impressive 2.66 ERA. While his strikeout rate (16.3%) fell short of the league average, Nick Ramirez countered with a stellar 5.2% walk rate and an exceptional 47.4% ground-ball rate – both metrics indicative of strong control and minimizing damage.

His spring training performance further solidified his case. Nick Ramirez logged 10⅓ innings, allowing only five runs on nine hits and one walk, while striking out nine batters. Most notably, he continued his knack for inducing ground balls, boasting a dominant 62% ground-ball rate.

Despite his convincing showcase, Nick Ramirez failed to crack the Yankees‘ Opening Day roster. The team apparently prefers to rely on Tanner Tully for immediate bullpen depth at this time and designated him for assignment.

This DFA designation opens a one-week window for the Yankees to explore their options with Nick Ramirez. These options include trading him, attempting to pass him through waivers for potential selection by another team, or releasing him altogether. It’s important to note that he has been outrighted before, granting him the right to reject any minor league assignment even if he clears waivers.

California homecoming for Nick Ramirez

AP Photo/ David Zalubowski

The trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers brings Nick Ramirez significantly closer to his Southern California roots. The 6-foot-4 left-hander grew up in Anaheim and attended college at CSU Fullerton before being drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2011 MLB draft.

His journey to the majors wasn’t a conventional one. Drafted initially as a first baseman, he spent his first six professional seasons toiling in the minors. However, a career-altering change came in 2017 when the Brewers transitioned him into a pitcher. This move proved fruitful, as Ramirez found himself in Triple-A by the season’s end.

After signing with the Detroit Tigers in 2018, Nick Ramirez finally received his MLB call-up in 2019. That season, he saw the most action of his career, making 46 appearances and recording a 5-4 record with a 4.07 ERA.

Nick Ramirez’s path continued with stints on minor league contracts with the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners before landing a similar deal with the New York Yankees in 2023. Though his time with the Yankees ultimately resulted in a designation for assignment, it did lead to his first extended stay in the major leagues.

Despite not cracking the Dodgers’ active roster initially, Nick Ramirez remains upbeat about the opportunity. With injuries plaguing the Dodgers’ pitching staff and their need for more left-handed relief, this trade presents him with a valuable chance to contribute to their bullpen in a familiar West Coast environment.

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