Wilson Ramos’ free agent stock took a sizable hit the moment he suffered a torn ACL on Sept. 26, but the catcher’s agent, Wil Polidor, tells Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post that Ramos still plans to seek a four- or five-year contract in free agency.
As Castillo writes, the Nationals aren’t likely to extend a qualifying offer to Ramos on the heels of his injury, and if that’s the case, his chances at securing a multi-year pact would certainly be enhanced. While some may consider the notion of a multi-year deal following Ramos’ ACL tear unrealistic, it’s also possible that there are teams that will consider this an opportunity to acquire a premium catcher at a bargain rate. Most clubs won’t want to make any type of sizable one-year commitment with Ramos potentially sidelined for a notable portion of the 2017 campaign, but the idea of offering a backloaded multi-year deal certainly has some merit. After all, prior to his knee injury, Ramos had positioned himself to target something in the vicinity of the five-year, $80-85MM deals recently signed by Brian McCann and Russell Martin. To teams interested in adding a catcher on a long-term deal, the notion of securing Ramos on a four-year deal at a lower annual rate probably holds some appeal, even if the return on investment is minimal in year one of the pact.
Of course, any long-term deal with Ramos does come with considerable risk. This is the second time that he’s torn the ACL in his right knee, and for a catcher that is listed at 6’1″ and 255 pounds, a pair of significant knee injuries to go along with his massive frame is a genuine cause for concern. Indeed, Ramos himself has already hinted at the fact that it may be beneficial for him to sign with an American League club, implying that the availability of a DH slot could be critical for him.
Polidor also tells Castillo that Ramos is set to undergo a four-week evaluation of his knee that will conclude in the second week of November, which lines up with the General Managers’ Meetings in Phoenix, Ariz. (not to be confused with December’s Winter Meetings in Washington D.C.). Upon completion of that evaluation, he’ll have a clearer timetable from his doctors. At last check, Ramos was slated for a seven-month rehab process, which would put him on target to wrap up around mid-May. Of course, that timeline also likely represents a best-case scenario, and even if Ramos achieves that ambitious goal, he’ll still need to be eased back into catching on a regular basis.
When healthy this season, Ramos was outstanding. In 523 plate appearances, the 28-year-old batted .307/.354/.496 with a career-high 22 home runs. He also caught 37 percent of opposing base-stealers — 10 percent better than the league average — and drew strong pitch-framing marks from Baseball Prospectus. Ramos ranked fifth on the final edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, although that list was published prior to his knee injury.