Mariners deal Ramirez to Rays for Montgomery

Mariners deal Ramirez to Rays for Montgomery

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was traded to Tampa Bay on Tuesday for left-hander Mike Montgomery as Seattle acquired a former first-round Draft pick in return for a pitcher who was out of Minor League options.

Ramirez, 24, was one of Seattle's top pitching prospects in 2012, when he was first called up, and he's started 35 games for the Mariners over the past three years. But he has struggled with consistency the past two seasons.

Montgomery also was a well-regarded prospect for the Royals as a first-round selection in 2008 as a prep pitcher out of California. The 25-year-old was dealt to the Rays in 2013 as part of the Wil Myers-James Shields blockbuster and has yet to reach the Majors.

Montgomery was on the Rays' 40-man roster and still in Major League camp competing for a relief role. He has one Minor League option remaining.

Montgomery records second K

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Montgomery was 10-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 25 starts for Triple-A Durham last year, where he was a mid-season All-Star and helped lead the Bulls to the International League Championship Series for the second consecutive season.

Montgomery was rated by MLB.com as one of the Top 50 overall prospects in baseball as recently as the 2012 season and he was ranked the Rays' No. 27 prospect this season.

Montgomery was used as a reliever for the first time this spring. He pitched six games out of the bullpen for the Rays in Grapefruit League action, posting a 2.38 ERA with three earned runs, two walks and nine strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Ramirez put up a 3.36 ERA in 16 games, including eight starts, with Seattle as a 22-year-old rookie in 2012 and opened '13 in the starting rotation. He went 5-3 with a 4.98 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) that year, then was 1-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 17 games (14 starts) last season.

Ramirez strikes out Trout

The Mariners had no opening for Ramirez in their deep rotation and bullpen this spring and risked losing the Nicaraguan hurler if they sent him to the Minors since he was out of options and thus would have been exposed to waivers.

Ramirez's departure leaves the Mariners with five starters in camp -- Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Taijuan Walker.

The Rays have been hit with several injuries in their rotation and have been seeking starting help.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.