The Marlins traded closer A.J. Ramos late Friday to the National League East rival Mets for prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes.
The Miami Herald also confirmed Friday night that the Mets will pick up the remainder of Ramos’ $6.55 million salary for this season.
Ramos, 30, is arbitration eligible for one more season before becoming a free agent in 2019.
Ramos, who recorded a four-out save on Thursday night, converted 92 saves in 111 chances during his six seasons with the Marlins.
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“This one is especially tough given our history with A.J.,” Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said. “He’s our guy. We watched him blossom into an All-Star closer for us. So to part ways is definitely difficult. He was a pro as usual.”
Ramos, a 21st round pick of the Marlins in 2009, evolved into a closer after starting his career as a middle reliever. Ramos earned his first All-Star selection last season with 40 saves and a 2.81 ERA. Although speculation is that the Mets will use him more as a potential late-inning setup reliever.
Ramos has pitched in 325 games in his career and is 15-16 with a 2.78 ERA in 327 1/3 innings.
This season, Ramos is 2-4 with a 3.63 ERA and has converted 20 of 22 saves.
“On the heels of Phelps [trade], there was probably a half-dozen clubs that were still in the reliever market,” Hill said. “Ultimately you go where the best players are and we really like the players we were able to get back for A.J. We’re trying to get better and to add as much talent and as much depth to our system.”
The Marlins, who traded up setup reliever David Phelps to the Mariners on July 20, for a quartet of prospects and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays in June for two others, picked up two more Single-A players as they continue their effort to fortify one of the weakest farm systems in baseball.
Gonzalez, 21, has a 12-3 record with a 1.78 ERA in 17 starts combined for the Mets’ Single-A affiliates. Gonzalez is ranked the No. 9 prospect in the Mets’ system by MLBPipeline.com.
Gonzalez (6-0, 213 pounds) was originally signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic on March 6, 2013.
Cespedes, 19, was also signed out of the Dominican Republic and is ranked No. 22 prospect by MLBPipline.com. A left-handed hitting and throwing center fielder, Cespedes has combined for a .255 average in 29 games for three minor-league teams this season, primarily playing for Single A Brooklyn in the New York Penn League.
“We’re just looking for the most quality,” Hill said. “[Gonzalez] is a big winner, big stuff and we like what he can be in the future to help this organization. Cespedes is an athletic, tooled up young outfielder.”
The Marlins aren’t likely done dealing. Starting pitcher Dan Straily and reserve catcher A.J. Ellis have been rumored among the most likely candidates.
With Ramos and Phelps gone, Kyle Barraclough and Nick Wittgren on the disabled list, Hill said the Marlins would likely turn to veteran Brad Ziegler to close out games for the time being.
Hill said the Marlins plan to reactivate Ziegler, who has been on the disabled list since June 22 with a back strain, before Saturday’s game against the Reds.
Drew Steckenrider also has closed out 20 of 22 saves in the minors.