The Milwaukee Brewers are in that uncertain place where the Cubs used to exist, trying to collect as many long-term assets as possible, trying to see which interesting project players might actually stick around for their next contending team.
The Brewers have now claimed reliever Neil Ramirez off waivers from the Cubs, potentially adding a right-handed weapon to their bullpen, though that idea comes with the standard disclaimer.
"The biggest thing is good health," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. "If he’s able to maintain good health and get an opportunity, he’s going to pitch really well."
The Cubs acquired Ramirez as part of the Matt Garza trade with the Texas Rangers in 2013 and watched him develop into a dominant setup guy the following season (1.44 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 43-plus innings).
But Ramirez has been on the disabled list three separate times since the middle of that 2014 season, accounting for only 14 innings during last year’s breakthrough into the playoffs. The Cubs didn’t find a role for him this season (4.70 ERA in eight appearances) and designated him for assignment on May 21.
"He’s got a great arm," Maddon said. "He’s got a wipeout slider. The velocity, I guess, came back a little bit, but I wasn’t here to really see the difference. Primarily, with good health, this guy can be very good. And I wish him nothing but the best. It’s no more complicated than that. If Neil stays well, he’s going to pitch well."