Cincinnati Reds What If – What would have happened if the Reds had signed Neil Ramirez?

Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds had an interesting chance to add another multi-inning reliever by signing Neil Ramirez.

The Cincinnati Reds have no real multi-inning relievers beyond Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen.  Tony Cingrani could be one, but Blake Wood is not one.  The rest of the bullpen is currently made of single inning relievers or starters with no bullpen experience.

That’s where a pitcher like Neil Ramirez comes in as an interesting option.  He was a starting pitching prospect in the Chicago Cubs’ system.  He joined the Cubs in 2014 and was a dominant mid-inning reliever.

In 2015 Ramirez was doing fine for the Cubs when they sent him to the minors.  He focused on transitioning to a multi-inning, but never regained his position.  In 2016 Ramirez pitched for the Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Minnesota Twins.

Teams think that Ramirez looks good, but none kept him for long in 2016.  Aside from pitching for those three teams, Ramirez was also part of the San Francisco Giants’ organization this year.  This all comes after the Texas Rangers selected him in the first round of the MLB draft as a sandwich pick.

Ramirez has the stuff to be a successful major league reliever.  He has shown his ability in the minors and on the Cubs’ roster.  His 2016, though, was quite awful.

The question is whether Ramirez is injured.  As a 28 year old pitcher, Ramirez is too young to see a demonstrable loss of speed on his fastball.  That begs the question of what is happening to Ramirez.

Some other pitchers that may fit a role like Ramirez are Scott Diamond, Adam Loewen, and Vance Worley.  They all have some starting experience.  Ramirez signed a minor league deal with the Giants this off-season.

The Cincinnati Reds are looking for multi-inning relievers to help Michael Lorenzen late in games.

Ramirez fit the bill of what the Reds are looking for in a pitcher.  They are looking for multi-inning relievers to support their new closer, Drew Storen.  With the front office taking calls on Raisel Iglesias, Lorenzen may be the only multi-inning reliever in the bullpen to start spring training.

Ramirez was a minor league free agent with experience as a middle reliever.  His struggles in 2016 could have benefitted all of the Reds’ young pitchers as a cautionary tale of how quickly the dream can disappear.  He also could have talked to the difference between starting, short relief and multi-inning relief.

Ramirez also would have allowed the Reds to move Blake Wood in a deal.  Right now, Wood is the only reliever on the team that is comfortable coming into the game mid-inning.  That was the role that Ramirez mastered with the Cubs in 2014.

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This is the type of the pitcher that the Reds claim they are looking for this off-season.  Ramirez was available and signed a minor league deal.  The question is whether the Reds have their eyes on better options.