Cubs Claim Catcher Off Waivers
The Cubs have claimed 26-year old C-1B Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox claimed Ramirez off waivers from the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, and immediately placed him back on waivers again the next day, obviously hoping they were the only club with interest in Ramirez and that they could sneak him through. But what the BoSox did not foresee was that during the time that Ramirez was on waivers the Cubs would make an eight-player deal where they would trade four players who were on their 40-man roster for two players on the other club's 40 (thus opening up two slots on the Cubs 40-man roster), and that one of the players the Cubs would trade would be a catcher (Robinson Chirinos).
Ramirez was signed out of Venezuela by the Braves in 2002, and was traded in stretch drive deals twice, from ATL to CLE in July 2006 (for RHRP Bob Wickman), and from CLE to TEX in July 2007 (for OF Kenny Lofton).
Ramirez was a Rangers Top 10 Prospect as recently as 2009. He is an offensive-first right-handed hitting catcher with plus-power who has also played some 1B in recent years, with a 298/396/476 minor league line in 563 career minor league games. If his minor league numbers are averaged out over 140 games per season, he would average 18 HR, 89 RBI, and 33 doubles per season. He has hit 217/343/357 with four HR and four doubles in 45 MLB games (2008 and 2010 with Texas).
He doesn't have much of an arm, throwing out just 18% of opposing base-stealers in his minor league career, and his all-around defensive skills are rated below-average. He is also a very slow runner.
Ramirez will be competing in Spring Training with Koyie Hill and Welington Castillo for the Cubs back-up catcher gig, but (like K. Hill) Ramirez is out of minor league options, so if he does not make the Cubs 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training he would have to pass through Ourtright Waivers without being claimed before he could be sent to the minors.