Wilson Ramos is as difficult a free agent to peg as any. The still-youthful backstop will miss time early after suffering a late-season ACL tear, but he is also coming off of an outstanding all-around season and entering a market that’s thin on catching talent. We heard previously that his camp still hopes for a four or even five-year offer, and he’ll be aided by the fact that the Nationals did not make him a qualifying offer. Here’s the latest:
- Ramos’s doctors believe he actually could be ready a bit earlier than had previously been indicated, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports. The 29-year-old could even be capable of a return to duty behind the dish by May of 2017. Even if that’s optimistic, it seemingly suggests that he is progressing well from his second ACL replacement.
- Despite the hopes for a larger deal, Heyman writes that Ramos is willing to consider shorter-term arrangements — one or two years — that would give him a chance to build his value back up before hitting the open market again. Ramos had originally hoped to approach or even exceed $100MM in a contract this winter, Heyman notes, and certainly that level of spending seems unlikely. Given that he only just turned 29, it’s certainly plausible that he could hope to be a top-of-the-market asset again in a year or two. Being open to shorter pacts would unquestionably broaden the slate of possible suitors.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo discussed the organization’s decision to pass on the QO, as Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. “It’s just difficult to budget for the uncertainty,” said Rizzo. “We don’t know how long we’d have him. All the medical reports say he could miss a couple months. So if he does accept the qualifying offer, you’re paying a lot of money for a little bit of performance. That’s what went into it.”
- Despite being unwilling to risk $17.2MM on a one-year deal, the Nationals remain open to what Rizzo calls a “creative” contract of some kind, Castillo further reports. “I think there would have to be shared risk if we were to come up with a creative way to sign Wilson,” Rizzo explained. “But it’s not to say we can’t come to some kind of agreement.” The veteran exec went on to say that he believes Ramos can return to regular duty behind the plate, but noted that he may be expected to see time elsewhere — in the National League, at first base — “to keep his bat in the lineup.” But that would be “more of a strategic move than a move made out of injury concern,” Rizzo added.
- All told, it seems there’s still some hope of a reunion with the Nationals, where Ramos has spent the vast majority of his major league career. Indeed, the team is set to meet with his representatives at the GM Meetings to discuss just that possibility. Still, though, it seems reasonably likely that another team will put a higher price tag on the free agent, particularly since Ramos wasn’t enamored of the three-year, $33MM offer that the club made him earlier this year (before his injury).