In addition to sending Nick Franklin back to the minors following a six-day call-up the Mariners have also dropped right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from their starting rotation and demoted him all the way down to Single-A.
Officially the reason being given for sending Ramirez to Single-A instead of Triple-A is that he can remain on his current pitching schedule and, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, “rejoin the rotation after the Mariners have two off days in next five days.”
Brandon Maurer will take Ramirez’s spot in the rotation Sunday and then the Mariners are hoping to activate Hisashi Iwakuma from the disabled list next week, so it seems far from a given that Ramirez will be back immediately.
Ramirez debuted at age 22 and posted a 4.25 ERA and 105/38 K/BB ratio in 131 innings between 2012 and 2013, but this season he allowed 18 runs and a league-high six homers in 24 innings. He actually threw a Quality Start last time out, including eight strikeouts versus the Astros, but afterward manager Lloyd McClendon was curiously critical of the performance anyway.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.