SEPT. 29: Surgery will reveal the full extent of Ramos’ knee injury, but it’s possible there are also some tears in his meniscus, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
SEPT. 27: Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has received the devastating news that he has again torn his right ACL, manager Dusty Baker told reporters (via CSN Mid-Atlantic, on Twitter). Ramos previously suffered that injury — which isn’t exactly typical for a catcher — back in 2012.
With just a week left in the regular season, and the division already locked up, the Nationals now face a void at the catching position entering the postseason. Ramos’s huge season — a .307/.354/.496 slash with 22 home runs over 523 plate appearances — was among the factors that helped drive the Nats’ success this year after both player and team disappointed in 2015.
Of course, the injury also casts a massive shadow over Ramos’s upcoming free agency. It had seemed all but certain that he’d receive and decline a qualifying offer, then enter the market in search of four or five years at over $10MM per season. Instead, in all likelihood, he’ll now likely be looking for an entirely different sort of contract.
Washington had reportedly just taken a crack at extending Ramos, though the team’s reported offer (something a bit north of three years and $30MM) didn’t seem all that likely to result in a deal. As I noted in that post, Ramos had already taken on basically all of the risk of performance and injury decline, reducing his incentive to sell his future seasons at a discount. But the relatively meager odds didn’t prevent the catastrophic injury, which is all the more concerning given that Ramos has already had that ligament replaced.
The Nats will go with Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino for now, and will simply have to make do with that pair for the playoffs. It’s now certain that the organization will need to replace Ramos after the season — there would seem to be little chance that he’ll be ready for the start of 2017 — though it could also sign a gap-filler and explore some kind of multi-year arrangement to keep him around for the future.
Just how things will play out remains unknown, with Ramos’s anticipated timeline still yet to be determined. The repeat nature of the surgery likely increases the uncertainty surrounding his recovery, and the situation as a whole only adds to concerns about how the large-bodied receiver would age, particularly with the litany of leg injuries he has suffered.
On the positive side, “the Buffalo” — as he is affectionately and appropriately known — just turned 29 in early August, so he’s still rather youthful. He has already proved capable of working back from an ACL tear, and has held up to an immense amount of abuse before this hard-luck injury, appearing in 259 games since the start of 2015.
All said, it’s extremely disappointing to see such misfortune for a universally respected player who has already been through so much. Hope remains that he’ll be able to return to being a productive big league receiver, but it won’t be in 2016.
The injury also creates some added opportunity for other catchers on the free agent market, such as Matt Wieters and Jason Castro, who may see their demand increase. And it could shift the trade winds, potentially enhancing the Yankees’ bargaining position with veteran Brian McCann and adding to the appeal of struggling Padres receiver Derek Norris.