Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is likely to undergo a procedure to repair an injury to his left hamate bone, report Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post. The surgery will likely keep Ramos out of action for four to eight weeks, according to the report.
The news is a major disappointment for the Nats, and even moreso for the unlucky Ramos, who returned last year from an ACL tear only to deal with hamstring issues over the first half of the season. Ramos, 26, was expected to play a major role for a Washington club that hopes to return to the top of the NL East this year. In just 303 plate appearances last year, he clubbed 16 home runs and put up a .272/.307/.470 triple-slash.
It is not yet known, of course, how the team will address the loss. The Nationals acquired Jose Lobaton in mid-February to serve as the backup catcher, and can certainly lean on him in a starting role for some time. The likeliest internal candidates to take Ramos's roster spot are Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano, who have filled in at the MLB level in past years. Washington let veteran Chris Snyder leave at the end of the spring, and he has since signed on with the Rangers.
A new acquisition will surely tempt GM Mike Rizzo given the team's readiness to win, Ramos's fairly extensive medical history, and the fact that hamate injuries often sap power for some time even after a player returns. But at this early stage of the season, it would be effectively impossible to find a player that offers a reasonable hope of filling Ramos's substantial expected production. And it could be hard even to find someone that would provide much of an upgrade over the team's internal options for the reserve role.