On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays announced the acquisition of infielder Trevor Plouffe from the Oakland Athletics for cash considerations. Tampa Bay will also receive more than $2-million in the deal, offsetting some of the $3-million plus remaining on the infielder’s contract.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Plouffe, the Rays have moved right-hander Matt Andriese (hip) to the 60-day DL. Since he is not expected to join the Rays until Monday, they won’t have to make room on the active roster until then.
#Rays have acquired INF Trevor Plouffe from OAK for cash considerations. To make room, RHP Matt Andriese was transferred to the 60-day DL.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 17, 2017
Oakland designated Plouffe for assignment last week after slashing .214 BA/.276 OBP/.357 SLG/.633 OPS over 199 plate appearances, while striking out 29.1% of the time. He is coming off a somewhat disappointing 2016 campaign with Minnesota in which he slashed a .260 BA/.303 OBP/.420 SLG/.723 OPS line, while also earning below-average marks in UZR (0.1 at 1B and -7.7 at 3B), and DRS (4 at 1B and -4 at 3B) for his defense.
Plouffe will become the third infielder the team has acquired over the last 30 days, joining the rather uninspiring Michael Martinez and Taylor Featherston — who has an option remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A Durham on Monday.
The Rays hope Plouffe will be somewhat more productive at either infield corner, as he is just a few years removed from his 2014 and 2015 campaigns in which he combined for 36 home runs. Boding in his favor is a respectable .269 BA/.345 OBP/.459 SLG/.804 OPS against left-handed pitching over his career — compare that to Rickie Weeks Jr., who’s slashed a poor .176/.275 SLG/.333 OBP/.608 OPS line against southpaws this season.
Despite having a very strong season overall, Morrison has not hit lefties well in his career. The Rays could try to find further opportunities for Plouffe as a pinch-hitter, and he should improve their bench, which has had options like Michael Martinez and Rickie Weeks to man the infield corners. Also, as ESPN’s Jim Bowden points out in a tweet, the Rays’ AL East rivals the Red Sox have struggled at third base this season and had interest in Plouffe last winter, and the Rays acquiring him prevents the Red Sox from acquiring him now. Plouffe is eligible for free agency after the season.
Is it time to move Erasmo Ramirez back to the bullpen?
Last night Erasmo Ramirez allowed 10 runs — eight earned — on nine hits and two walks, while fanning just two batters over 4-2/3 innings during the ugly 13-4 loss to Detroit. Even though he retired nine consecutive batters on 29 pitches, after giving up a leadoff homer to Ian Kinsler, he has allowed 38 baserunners and 22 earned runs over his last four outings (totaling 16-1/3 innings of work).
A simple premise: perhaps Erasmo is better suited as a relief pitcher.
As a reliever this season, Ramirez has posted a 3.05 ERA and 3.52 FIP over 20-2/3 innings. Compare that to an unsightly 6.48 ERA and 4.64 over 33-1/3 innings as a starter. Although a certain amount of luck has either helped or hurt him in both roles — a .218 BABIP as a reliever vs .352 BABIP — the simple fact is that he has been much more effective out of the ‘pen.
Moreover, he’s been much more productive the first and second times through the order as a reliever, than he has as a starter. True, he has struck out fewer batters as a reliever than as a starter, marginally speaking of course, yet he has limited contact and stranded runners on base more often out of the ‘pen. The rubber-armed hurler also has allowed fewer batters to reach base as a reliever, to the tune of a .240 OBP — a .111 difference than as a starter.
In the end, the Rays could use another arm in the ‘pen, and Erasmo has been effective out of that role. To that end, Blake Snell appears to have tightened things up in Durham — a pristine 2.84 ERA and an impressive 3.79 K/BB over 38 innings speaks to that — and he could be primed for a return to the big leagues.
With 10 games left until the official mid-point of the season, and a front office that appears to be serious about a postseason run, the Rays cannot continue to expect the offense to make up for inadequate pitching. One key improvement, in the present tense, would be to move Ramirez back to the bullpen.