Nats bring back Ramirez, designate Carrillo for assignment

The Nationals didn’t have a lot of high-profile free agents set to depart the team this offseason, but they have retained one they valued a lot in 2022.

Erasmo Ramirez is returning to Washington on a one-year deal for 2023, the team announced this afternoon after reports the two sides were in agreement surfaced last week. Ramirez needed to pass a physical before it could become official.

The 32-year-old could earn up to $2 million with incentives this year, as confirmed by our own Mark Zuckerman.

Signed to a minor league deal in March and only earning a modest $700,000 this year, Ramirez filled a variety of roles for manager Davey Martinez. The right-hander was a bridge arm covering multiple innings between starters and the back end of the bullpen, he pitched high-leverage innings late in games during the season’s last couple of months and he even made two emergency starts against the Braves.

His 2.92 ERA, 1.077 WHIP and 4.36 strikeout-to-walk rate over 86 ⅓ innings earned him Pitcher of the Year honors, as voted on by Nationals media members. He was one of only three major league relievers with an ERA under 3.00 while pitching at least 75 innings, joining the Rangers’ Brock Burke and the Angels’ Jaime Barria.

Ramirez rejoins an already deep bullpen that includes Kyle Finnegan, Carl Edwards Jr., Hunter Harvey, Andres Machado, Mason Thompson and Paolo Espino, with Tanner Rainey expected to return from Tommy John surgery during the season and Sean Doolittle competing for a roster spot in spring training on a minor league deal.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Nationals designated Gerardo Carrillo for assignment. The 24-year-old right-hander joined Josiah Gray, Keibert Ruiz and Donovan Casey as the package the Nats received from the Dodgers in exchange for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner at the 2021 trade deadline.

Carrillo went 0-5 with a 5.59 ERA and 1.649 WHIP in 37 innings over eight starts with Double-A Harrisburg to close out the 2021 season. He collectively went 2-1 with a 6.94 ERA, 1.671 WHIP and two saves in 21 appearances (one start) across the Rookie-level Florida Complex League, High-A Wilmington and Harrisburg this year.

But he particularly struggled at Double-A, posting an 11.32 ERA and 2.129 WHIP over his 10 appearances with the Senators.

Now two of the four players received for Scherzer and Turner have been designated for assignment at some point by the Nationals. The team designated Casey for assignment in August upon claiming left-hander Jake McGee from the Brewers. Casey cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Rochester two days later.

The Nationals also announced infielder Lucius Fox has cleared outright waivers and has been assigned to Rochester.

The Nats designated Fox for assignment last week when they claimed right-hander A.J. Alexy off waivers from the Rangers.

And lastly, the Nationals announced they agreed to terms with Rainey on a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Rainey, who turns 30 on Christmas Day, went 1-3 with a 3.30 ERA, 1.300 WHIP and 12 saves over his 29 appearances before his season was cut short by Tommy John surgery. The right-hander was projected to earn $1.5 million next season by MLB Trade Rumors.

The Nats have now avoided arbitration with Rainey and infielder Ildemaro Vargas. The remaining arbitration-eligible players include Edwards, Victor Robles, Harvey, Victor Arano, Lane Thomas and Finnegan.

Luke Voit, Erick Fedde and Tommy Romero were non-tendered last month. Voit is currently a free agent. Fedde reportedly signed a one-year contract earlier today with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization in South Korea. Romero last week returned to the Nats on a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training.

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