The Nationals will not make a qualifying offer to catcher Wilson Ramos, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (via Twitter). That means that he’ll be able to enter the open market free of any requirement that a signing team part with a draft pick to add him.
Ramos certainly performed well enough to make the one-year, $17.2MM offer an easy decision for the Nats, but his late-year ACL tear drastically changed the calculus. The 29-year-old will likely not be available until the middle of the 2017 season, and may not be ready immediately for catching duties. For a National League team, especially, offering that amount for a half-season (or less) of Ramos was too great a risk to take. He’d have had a chance to lock in a big guarantee before re-entering the market next winter.
That Ramos may have been inclined to take such a sizable sum from the Nats does not mean he’ll be limited to one-year scenarios this winter. To the contrary, his representatives have given signals that they’ll be looking for a four or even five-year deal on the open market. While it’s still possible that some sort of pillow contract arrangement will ultimately make the most sense, there appears to be hope that some organization will take a shot at the upside in a lengthier pact.
After all, the catching market is quite shallow. And Ramos hit enough in 2016 to suggest he could provide value to an American League team as a DH even as he gets fully up to speed behind the dish. On the heels of a shaky 2015, Ramos underwent Lasik surgery and broke out with a .307/.354/.496 batting line and career-best 22 home runs over 523 plate appearances. The still-youthful receiver also showed well as a framer and displayed a big arm.
Clubs weighing a calculated gamble on Ramos will need to consider his checkered injury history and large frame in setting their price. This is the second time he has required ACL surgery, and he has previously dealt with hamstring issues. Ramos also missed a stretch in 2014 with a hamate break, though that was an acute injury and he obviously rebounded in the power department.