The Miami Marlins managed to salvage a game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night. As they get continued success for their closer, questions grow.
If ever there were a time to have mixed feelings, the continued success of A.J. Ramos is one. The Miami Marlins currently sit at 25-33, and could be facing major changes with their Major League roster.
With Ramos having one of his most statistically successful seasons, the better he performs, the more valuable he becomes. As the trade deadline nears, the Marlins will be forced to make a decision on where Ramos stands within the future of the organization.
On Wednesday, Ramos finished off a four-out save against the defending champion Chicago Cubs. (Still weird to say that). It was an impressive outing where he went through heart of a dangerous lineup without batting an eye.
With the result secured, Ramos remained perfect in his save opportunities this season; 9-9.
His performance this season hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The bigger picture
A.J. Ramos has been a pleasant surprise for the Miami Marlins. He wasn’t anticipated to become the dominant closer that he is.
After Steve Cishek was shipped off to St. Louis for Kyle Barraclough, the backend of the bullpen was in flux. Ramos did well to seize control of the role and hasn’t relinquished it since. Even in the face of the organization bringing in Fernando Rodney last season, Ramos emerged as the more consistent player.
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That’s part of the reason this will inevitably be such difficult decision.
His statistical attributes, as well as his intangible qualities simultaneously make him a desirable option to keep around, and a primo trading chip. The Marlins are in desperate need of replenishing their farm system. Ramos would help greatly along that vein.
With all of the trade rumors swirling around the organization, dealing Ramos is one of the few that makes sense. As a matter of practicality, the Marlins will have to make some trades at the deadline regardless of what their record is.
Even with a great turnaround this season, the future of the team doesn’t project well. The best course of action would be to deal players who will be looking for big money soon, and hold a lot of value. Ramos checks both of those boxes.
Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, J.T. Realmuto, Dee Gordon, and Marcell Ozuna likely won’t be on the move. For a variety of different reasons, their future on the team should be secure and they form a functional core to build around.
That leaves a few pieces that the Marlins can deal to build it back up. Ramos.
Ramos is up for his final year of arbitration next season, then he’ll hit the free agent market. The financial commitments elsewhere price the team out of resigning him.
The bullpen is also one of the few places the team has considerable depth.
Where the Marlins would stand post-Ramos
Kyle Barraclough has gone through growing pains this year, but he is still the likely closer in waiting. Brian Ellington, and Nick Wittgren are also young, right-handed power pitchers with years of team control ahead. Drew Steckenrider is ready to make the jump the Major Leagues.
The team is ready to move on past Ramos. As the deadline approaches, contending teams will get desperate. It doesn’t mean conceding the season if the Fish decide to deal him. They could net top prospects from an organization who is looking to make a push this season.
Starting pitching would be at the top of their list.
The more success Ramos has, the more valuable he becomes. He’s proven to be a reliable and consistent pitcher who doesn’t shy away from the big moment. That could help the team score a big time prospect when the time comes.