You don’t often see clubs that are competing for the same wild-card spot make trades with each other, but that is exactly what the Mariners and Rays did Friday morning with Seattle sending reliever Steve Cishek to Tampa Bay for Erasmo Ramirez. The move gives the Mariners a swing type pitcher that can start or give them long innings out of the bullpen.
“Erasmo brings us a good combination of experience, versatility and control as we look to both be better in 2017, and in future seasons,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in the press release. “We’ve added depth to our pitching staff in a variety of ways and maintained flexibility as we move forward with a player that is under club control for 2017, 2018 and 2019.”
Ramirez, 27, originally signed with the Mariners and was traded to the Rays in March 2015 for Mike Montgomery. He’s gone 3-2 with a 6.05 ERA as a starter this year and 1-1 with a 3.23 ERA out of the pen. He’s pitched exclusively in relief since June 28.
Entering Friday, the Mariners are 51-52 and sit 3.5 games out of a wild-card spot directly behind the Rays, who are 1.5 games out at 53-50. With the Mariners’ acquisition of David Phelps last week, Cishek became expendable. Phelps is an established set-up man and had pushed Cishek a bit further from late-innings work. Coming off surgery, Cishek was not a candidate for multiple-inning appearances. The Mariners needed a swing man while the Rays were looking for late-in-the-game relief help.
The two teams will meet in Tampa for three games in mid-August.
The Mariners will hold team control of Ramirez through the 2019 season, while Cishek was due to hit free agency at the end of this season. There was cash included in the deal; Ramirez is to earn $3.125 million this year and Cishek $6 million.
“I think he’s a great fit for us,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told “Brock and Salk” Friday morning, referring to Ramirez. “I will say that Steve Cishek did a really nice job the last couple years. When I came on board with Jerry here, we really didn’t have a closer. And to go out and sign Steve, he really did a nice job for us. And then he had the hip injury late last year and then Eddie Diaz kind of moved into that role, but can’t say enough about the job that Cishek did for us, how he handled himself in the clubhouse. Really a professional, a really good teammate. So hate to see him go, but again, every club’s doing it, you’re trying to figure out ways to make your club a little bit better as you get ready to take the stretch drive here.”
710Sports.com’s Stacy Rost contributed to this story.