ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays appear to have found the starting pitcher they were looking for to fill out their injury-depleted rotation, acquiring right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from Seattle late Tuesday in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery.
Ramirez, 24, has pitched parts of three seasons for the Mariners, going 7-12 with a 4.62 ERA.
Considered somewhat of a prospect coming through their system, Ramirez was impressive as a rookie in 2012 but has stalled a bit since. He made the Mariners' 2014 opening day roster and started their second game but was up and down throughout the season, posting a 1-6, 5.26 mark in seven stints.
Ramirez is out of options, so he will be part of the Rays' opening day roster, likely bumping right-hander Matt Andriese out of the No. 4 spot in the rotation. Conceivably Ramirez could be used in long relief. The Rays don't need a fifth starter until April 14.
Ramirez impressed scouts with his winter league performance in Venezuela, going 2-0 for Lara with a 0.30 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 30 innings over five starts.
Montgomery, 25, was being transitioned to a bullpen role this spring and seemed to be adjusting well. Acquired as part of the Wil Myers trade with Kansas City in December 2012, he was 10-5, 4.29 at Durham last season, his fourth spent primarily at Triple A.
The Rays had been looking to add a starter with some experience as they try to get through April with three members of their projected rotation sidelined — No. 1 Alex Cobb with forearm tendinitis, No. 3 Drew Smyly with shoulder tendinitis and No. 5 Alex Colome with the aftereffects of pneumonia. Plus, they already were without Matt Moore, who will be out at least into June as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
The three spring surprises left the Rays with only Chris Archer, who replaced Cobb at the top of the rotation, and Jake Odorizzi, among known commodities. Nathan Karns pitched well enough this spring to earn a spot, but that was as far as the Rays had gotten. Andriese, who has not pitched higher than Triple A, had emerged as the top choice to join them.
Manager Kevin Cash said Tuesday morning in Port Charlotte they would hold off on setting the order after Archer — expected to be Karns then Odorizzi — as well as naming the fourth starter until the end of the week, as rosters have to be set at 3 p.m. Sunday. "It's going to go down to the end," Cash said.
A primary reason, Cash said, was the possibility of an acquisition, as that new pitcher could slot in better for Games 2 or 3. "You have to factor in what kind of a routine they've been on, what they've been stretched out to, stuff like that," Cash said.
Though the Rays were at least discussing a number of veterans who were in other camps on minor-league deals, such as Wandy Rodriguez (Braves), Clayton Richard (Pirates) and Bruce Chen and Shaun Marcum (Indians), they obviously decided to go another direction.
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Ramirez has a four-pitch repertoire, throwing a fastball in the low 90s along with a changeup, slider and curveball. Success, as with most young pitchers, is keyed to strike-throwing.
Ramirez was to pitch today, so his schedule could be adjusted for him to start Game 4 on April 10 in Miami.
Contact Marc Topkin at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.