In a shocking move to shore up the bullpen going into next season, the New York Mets announced they have acquired right-handed closer AJ Ramos from the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league outfielder Ricardo Cespedes and minor league right-handed pitcher Merandy Gonzalez.
Ramos, 30, was an All-Star with Miami in 2016 and is 2-4 with 20 saves, a 3.63 ERA (16 earned runs/39.2 innings) and 47 strikeouts in 40 games for the Marlins in 2017. This season, Ramos ranks fifth in the National League in save percentage (90.9%, 20-of-22) and since the start of the 2016 season, Ramos ranks sixth in the major leagues with a 92.3 save percentage (60-of-65).
Ramos is under team control through next season. Over 327.1 career innings, Ramos owns a 2.78 ERA, a 10.4 K/9 rate, and a walk rate of 4.8 BB/9.
Gonzalez is a 21 year-old Dominican pitcher who has split his time between Columbia and St. Lucie this season. He went 8-1 with a 1.55 ERA and 8.4 K/9 rate to start the year for Columbia before getting the mid-season promotion to St. Lucie. Since the promotion, he has gone 4-2 with a 2.23 ERA, although he has seen his strikeout rate drop significantly. In the Baseball America midseason ranking of top ten prospects in the Mets’ system, he came in at number nine.
Cespedes is a 19 year-old outfielder who the Mets signed as a 16 year-old for $725,000 in 2013. The young outfielder is still toiling in the lower levels of the minor leagues, seeing at-bats in the Gulf Coast League, Brooklyn, and Columbia so far this year. In 29 games, he has hit .255/.283/.294 between all three levels. Last season, playing exclusively for the short-season Kingsport Mets, Cespedes hit .322/.356/.379 with a home run, four doubles, three triples, and seven stolen bases. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 22nd-best prospect in the Mets’ system.
In MMO’s preseason prospect rankings, Gonzalez came in at number 17, with Cespedes five spots behind him at number 22.
Taking Ramos off the market indicates two things. For one, it means the Mets are planning on competing in 2018. Second, it takes one of the best relievers off the trade market, away from contending teams. This could help as Sandy Alderson looks to maximize the return for Addison Reed.