The Tampa Bay Rays found their catcher by signing Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He will make a total of $12.5 mil with a chance to make up to $18.5 mil with incentives, per Jon Heyman of FanRag. Now, this deal is not done yet, as Ramos is pending a physical. The Rays want him, but he needs to pass the physical part on his knees to make the deal official, due to the fact that he tore his anterior cruciate liagament last season, plus this is not his first ACL surgery.
Now, catching was the Rays biggest need this off-season and one of their biggest weakness during the 2016 season, well honestly it has been a problem almost every season for the Rays. Ramos is a great gamble to take and this could be one of the moves that helps put the Rays back into the Wild Card contender list.
However, the 29-year-old All-Star catcher will miss either the first month or two of the 2017 season, if everything goes the right way in his recovery and rehab, but the Rays expect him to arrive in June or July, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Before the injury, the former National produced a solid slash line of .307/.354/.496 in 523 plate appearances in a breakout 2016 season with the Nationals. That outstanding performance won him his first Silver Slugger and All-Star appearance. Also, he blasted over 20 homers (22) for the first time in his MLB career and drove in 80 RBIs that helped him land a 3.3 WAR.
In addition, when Ramos is on the field, he is one of the better offensive catchers in the league, as he usually averages in 162 game season a .269 batting average with 23 homers and driving in 89 RBIs in 592 at-bats, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
On the other hand, Ramos is a solid defender, but is considered by StatCorner as a below average pitch framer, which the Rays are always looking for solid pitch framers, but Ramos possesses the abilities to throw out runners, call a solid game, and hit the baseball, which should make up for the lack of being an average pitch framer. Ramos has always thrown out runners at a high rate, as he has thrown out 34% of the runners and the league average sits at 28%. His past three seasons have looked like this in order, 38%, 44%, 37%, and the league average has sat around 28%.
Interestingly, Ramos has a Range Factor (putouts + assists) of 8.152 in his career, which is the second highest out of all active catchers. The current leader is A.J. Ellis, which he has an 8.155 in his career.
Finally, the Rays will most likely start the year with Luke Maile and Curt Casali splitting reps behind the plate until Wilson Ramos is ready to contribute to the team. Expect Maile to get the first crack at the job, as he is a better defender from all aspects when it comes to being a catcher.