Indians Add a Pair of Pitchers on Minor League Deals with Spring Invites

The Cleveland Indians continued adding low-risk depth to its spring training roster on Thursday as the team announced that free agent relievers Evan Marshall and Neil Ramirez had been signed to minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to spring training.

The Indians also formally announced the signing of outfielder Brandon Barnes. The 31-year-old veteran of five Major League seasons spent all of the 2017 season with the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A New Orleans affiliate.

Marshall, 27, is a right-hander who has worked exclusively in relief during his Major League career. He debuted in 2014, just a few years after the Arizona Diamondbacks made him a fourth round selection in the 2011 draft out of Kansas State University.

He spent parts of his first three big league seasons in Arizona, posting the best numbers of his career in his first season, going 4-4 with a 2.74 ERA in 57 relief appearances. He was claimed off of waivers by the Seattle Mariners at the start of the 2017 season and was inserted into the team’s bullpen. After a brief trip to Triple-A at the end of April and beginning of May, he rejoined the Mariners on May 5 but made just two pitches in the 11th inning of a game against the Texas Rangers before screaming in pain while clutching at the back of his right leg with what would later be diagnosed as a right hamstring sprain.

Marshall - Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Marshall – Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Marshall would not appear again at the Major League level during the 2017 season. He returned to the minor league mound at the end of July and remained there throughout the rest of his year and he has made up for missed time by pitching in the Mexican Pacific Winter League for Venados de Mazatlan.

He has made 91 total appearances at the MLB level in his four seasons and owns a 4-7 record with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP.

Ramirez, a 6-4 right-hander, has made the rounds since entering the pro game as a first round draft pick (44th overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2007. After spending six years in the Rangers organization, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs to complete the Matt Garza trade in August of 2013.

He made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2014 and had an impressive start to his big league career, going 3-3 in 50 games with three saves, a 1.44 ERA, and a 1.05 WHIP. He made just 19 appearances at the big league level in 2015 and eight more for the Cubs in 2016 before he was claimed off waivers by Milwaukee. The same would happen less than two weeks later when he joined the Minnesota Twins.

Cleveland marks the fifth organization for Ramirez in 2017. He started the year with San Francisco, but he was added by the Toronto Blue Jays in May as a waiver claim after appearing in nine games for the Giants. He was cut loose by the Jays ten days later without appearing in a game and signed with the New York Mets, spending just over two months and 20 games with the team before he was again on the open market. He pitched the remainder of the season with the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate, working in 19 games there in total.

In 116 career relief appearances, Ramirez is 4-4 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.

The Indians were active on the minor additions in November, bringing in Thursday’s trio of Barnes, Marshall, and Ramirez to pair with pitchers Jeff Beliveau and Leonel Campos and utility man Drew Maggi. All will be in Goodyear in February on non-roster invitations. Cleveland also claimed utility guy Rob Refsnyder off of waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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