Age: August 10, 1987 (31)
Traditional Stats: .306/.358/.487, 111 G, 22 2B, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 186 TB
Advanced Stats: 2.7 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR, 130 OPS+, 131 wRC
Defensive Stats: 29% CS, -5 DRS, 0.9 FRAA
Trading away R.A. Dickey after his 2012 Cy-Young award-winning campaign was a risky move. But GM Sandy Alderson felt like it was a move that had to be made. It gave the Mets a chance to acquire a type of player they haven’t had since the days of Paul Lo Duca, a productive everyday catcher. One of the top prospects in all of baseball, Travis d’Arnaud, was considered to be the centerpiece of the deal.
However, d’Arnaud enters this offseason at a crossroads in his career. Except for brief flashes, he’s failed to live up to his prospect pedigree. He’s also coming off a season-ending surgery. The Mets might think it’s unwise to tender him a contract worth an estimated $3.7 million (MLB Trade Rumors).
Kevin Plawecki has played the majority of the time behind the plate over the last two seasons, but his .210/.315/.370 (93 wRC+) slash line and horrific framing skills (StatCorner) leave much to be desired. Despite displaying excellent defense, Tomas Nido‘s failed to produce much of anything at the plate. They’re both more suited to be a backups rather than everyday starters.
While they are perfectly capable second-tier backstops, the Mets could stand for an upgrade.
Enter Wilson “The Buffalo“ Ramos
Once he was traded to Nationals in 2010, Ramos quickly established himself as one of the top offensive catchers in the league. After tearing his ACL in his walk year (2016), the Rays took a flyer on him, signing him to a two-year, 12.5 million contract with the understanding that he would miss the majority of the 2017 campaign. Despite the missed time, his production remained strong through the 2018 campaign. The only thing that could slow him down was a left hamstring strain that he suffered in July. He was eventually traded to the Phillies where he hit .337/.396/.483 for them down the stretch.
Despite an injury-shortened year, he was still one of the top offensive catchers in the majors. Among catchers, he finished first in wRC+ and slugging percentage while placing fourth in RBI. He also matched career highs in wOBA and set new bests in wRC+. Additionally, he’s historically performed well against lefties, which is an area the Mets struggled in in 2018.
Despite his gaudy offensive numbers, Ramos’s shortcomings lay in his health and his defense. He’s only played more than 100 games in half of his seasons and he suffered a serious knee injury only two seasons ago. His defense also leaves much to be desired. League wide, his 0.3 Framing Runs ranked 48th (StatCorner) while 29% caught stealing percentage placed him in the middle of the pack.
Ramos is only of the only two everyday backstops to hit the market this offseason so the Mets will face plenty of competition for his services.
Ramos’s contract could be around on par with Matt Wieters’ 2015 two-year, 21 million dollar deal with the Nationals. While he might earn an extra year and a little more AAV, he’ll come nowhere close to Russell Martin’s 2014 five-year, 82 million dollar contract with the Blue Jays. A two-to-three year pact worth between 20 to 30 million seems likely.
Since as much as ten teams could be looking for an upgrade behind the plate, his price could rise due to the simple function of supply and demand.
Teams have become more wary of long-term commitments with older players and such three years seems like the max for a Ramos deal. His age will play a factor in the length of his new contract as he’ll turn 32 during the 2019 season.
The Mets need to really analyze what their needs are this offseason. Their bullpen’s a mess, their outfield and infield are overcrowded with average to slightly above average players, and no one’s really sure if Jason Vargas’ second-half surge was legit. Furthermore, it’s unknown if the Wilpons’ are willing to spend to improve in those areas.
If they believe that an everyday catcher is a priority this offseason, that will mean signing either Yasmani Grandal or Ramos.