Is the answer to the Washington Nationals catching problems sitting in Tampa Bay? Imagine Wilson Ramos sharing the duties with Matt Wieters.
Ramos, “The Buffalo”, enters the last year of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. If the Rays are interested in cutting part of his $8.5 million due, the Nats are a natural fit.
The Nats recognize Matt Wieters must reduce his workload to remain effective. Washington remains high on Pedro Severino as their catcher of the future, but whether the prospect is ready to catch 60-80 games in the majors is a huge question.
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Now recovered from his torn ACL from September 2016, Ramos excelled in Tampa upon his return. He smashed 11 home runs while putting up a .260/.290/.447 slash line. His .737 OPS gives you a 98 OPS+ which is average. With the Rays, he caught 62 of his 64 games.
The cost in prospects for Ramos is not high and, if there is a bigger deal involving Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi, he could be a crucial piece of a championship deal. Tampa has Jesus Sucre on the roster to catch and has three years of team control left. The Rays may carry interest in either Severino or Raudy Reed in return.
A trade for Ramos does not mean Washington is unhappy with Wieters. He handled the pitching staff with expert skills. Some believe Wieters will manage when his playing days are done.
But, Washington cannot afford an automatic out at the bottom of the lineup with the pitcher. In October, that is lethal for their playoff hopes.
Ramos also handled the Nats staff well. Beloved by the fans, you voted him into the 2016 All-Star Game on the last chance ballot. Many were upset he left, but the ACL injury left a void Washington had no choice but to fill.
Although a costly duo, a combination of Wieters and Ramos is a win-win. You cannot go wrong with two experienced catchers handling a staff where they are familiar. With Ramos hitting right-handed, a strict platoon gives Wieters too much of a workload.
But, if they served as personal catchers, they can split the workload without wearing out. Both in contract years, a combination year gives them a chance to re-establish their value on the open market.
Whether either side has an interest is another story. But, there is the benefit of keeping Tampa’s payroll in line while helping Washington’s catching issue. Chalk this up as plausible.