Time is a flat circle, so it’s only fitting that Derek Norris is returning to DC. After the Nationals shipped him to Oakland as part of the deal that brought Gio Gonzalez to DC, Norris has been dealt back to the team that originally drafted him. In a deal announced Friday, the Nationals found a potential Wilson Ramos replacement in the former Padre Norris in exchange for Single-A pitcher Pedro Avila.
Tag Archives: Wilson Ramos
Jon Heyman has officially reported that Wilson Ramos has signed with the Tampa Bay Rays (pending physical), leaving Nationals fans with quite a few memories to sift through. Ramos’ timeline in the nation’s capital is marked with a kidnapping and a return, an All-Star season, and a montage of dejected opposing runners making their way to the dugout from second base. There are Buffalo bat drops on moonshots and Buffalo bat flips on wallscrapers mixed in on his timeline, too. Though visions of the double plays he grounded into (83 to be exact) will eventually fade, there are specific memories of Ramos that deserve to be revisited.
It’s never been a better time to be a relief pitcher. Thanks to the success of the Royals, Cubs and Indians and their respective bullpens, relief pitching is the new “fetch”. If you are lucky enough to be able to throw a baseball at least 95 MPH, you can pitch a couple innings a week, hang out in the bullpen the rest of the year, and watch the cash flow in. Look no further than the University of Maryland’s own Brett Cecil, who just signed a four year deal worth over $30 million after throwing only 36 innings of 3.93 ERA baseball last season.
This is the second of three parts in my offseason preview series. If you want to know more about the methodology, check out part one here. You should also just read it anyway! How did you even get to part two first?
With the conclusion of the World Series, the offseason is officially here. Although 2016 ended in disappointment for the Nationals, the team doesn’t lose a lot heading into 2017 and figures to once again be in the mix for the 2017 World Series. Like most teams, the Nationals have some work to do around the edges, like solidifying a bullpen that loses a few arms and replacing some of the bench players. But the big moves for the Nationals will be dictated by their answer to the following four crucial questions.
It’s been a week since the Nationals clinched the NL East with a win against the Pittsburgh Pirates and with the Philadelphia Phillies surpassing expectations by not blowing a ten run lead. In this week since, Bryce Harper has been sidelined with a thumb injury and Wilson Ramos’ ACL may have put his last play as a National in the books. Baseball can be one cruel mistress, but sometimes you can find light at the end of the tunnel. As luck will have it, there are pictures and videos of your favorite baseball team clinching a division title for the third time in five years. Lookit.
As I watched Wilson Ramos land awkwardly and crumple to the ground pointing at his knee Monday night, a lot was going through my mind. I was mad that the Nationals had to play in the sloppy conditions in DC that night. I was frustrated with Dusty Baker for not giving Ramos more time off. I cursed the baseball gods who clearly had a hand in sending first Stephen Strasburg then Daniel Murphy then Bryce Harper and now Ramos to the bench with injuries. I wondered how many people weren’t watching the game because they were doing something much more important like watching the presidential debate. I hated the Diamondbacks and their stupid jerseys. I missed Jose Fernandez, because anything related to baseball makes me miss Jose Fernandez this week. But most of all, in the midst of all that emotion, I feared what this injury might do to ruin what has been an amazing season of baseball in DC.
This week’s Nationals’ schedule had far fewer off-days than last, but the team was still able to squeeze in a few off-field exploits. Danny Espinosa’s dog was reunited with a best friend, Mike Maddux was introduced to his doppleganger, and Sammy Solis switched things up to play softball.
With three off-days in the last eight day span, the Nationals had plenty of time for birthday parties and nights out in DC. Bryce Harper and fiancee Kayla Varner showed off their cooking skills, Wilson Ramos (and his daughter) celebrated birthdays, and prospect Koda Glover showed off his instagram game.
Coming into this year, it seemed that Wilson Ramos’ time with the Washington Nationals was winding down. The talented but often injured catcher was coming off the worst offensive season of his career and looked likely to get lost in the shuffle.
This season has presented a different case, however. In the midst of what is by far his most productive year, Ramos enters Tuesday’s action with a .338/.387/.556 triple-slash line, 18 homers (already a career-high), and a 147 OPS+. Both the Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs version of WAR put him just under a total of four, which is another career-high.
One year is just that — one year — but it might be enough for the Nationals to bring Ramos back long term. Ramos, who turns 30 on Thursday, has a few factors working against him on the free agent market, but a four-year deal seems like a reasonable target, perhaps with a salary in the $15-$17 million range. (Brian McCann’s five year deal with the New York Yankees is my model, cutting one year off because of Ramos’ injury history.)
Agreeing to a long-term deal with Ramos is not ideal in some respects, because of his injury history and the fact that — if his offense takes a dive — his defense will not be enough to offset the decline. Yet, it may play out in a scenario in which both player and team find that a reunion is a mutually beneficial option.
The ability to sustain a high value could prove tough for Ramos over the length of the contract, but that might not stop the Nationals. For starters, even if he fails to live up to this year’s production, Ramos is still likely to contribute more offensively than the typical catcher. He is also familiar with the pitching staff, which gives him an advantage in an organization where there is no obvious replacement for the starting role.
The Nationals work hard at developing catchers, but as the farm system stands, the team is faced with several good options defensively, including Triple-A Syracuse’s Pedro Severino and Double-A Harrisburg’s Spencer Kieboom. However, neither has developed offensively to the point where they stand out as major-league ready starting catchers.
For Ramos, the reason for returning may turn out to be equally compelling. The upcoming offseason’s market for catchers is similar to ones of past years—loaded with names, but thin on talent. Of the prospective free agent catchers, the best comp to Ramos might be Matt Wieters, whose offensive production has taken a dive in recent weeks. The Baltimore Orioles seem unlikely to replace Wieters with an expensive option, and there are no obvious potential matches for Ramos. (I’m assuming that Jonathan Lucroy’s $5.25 million club option will be picked up by the Texas Rangers.)
Perhaps an unforeseen team will include Ramos as part of a spending spree, but recent history suggests that that is not always the end-all solutions—just ask this year’s Arizona Diamondbacks, or last year’s San Diego Padres. Furthermore, the free agent market as a whole is not particularly robust, so whatever resources teams have might not go toward a catcher approaching 30 and instead be allocated in a trade.
There are a lot of unknown variables that could play out over the next several months. For now, however, it seems like Ramos is bound to stay in DC a little longer.