Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos can become a free agent after the season, but the club hasn’t yet approached him about a contract extension, Jorge Castillo reports for the Washington Post. Ramos said, “They have told me absolutely nothing still. I’d like [to have my future here]. but those are decisions they make … They haven’t made any calls or communicated with us. We’re still waiting.”
Ramos, 29 next week, has been the second-most productive player in the Nationals’ lineup this season, batting .331/.381/.536 with 16 home runs and 59 RBI in 362 plate appearances. By FanGraphs WAR, he’s been the most valuable catcher in baseball. He and Buster Posey are the only catchers in baseball with three or more WAR. And going by weighted on-base average (wOBA), he’s out-hit every other catcher that’s taken at least 200 plate appearances.
Manager Dusty Baker has recognized the catcher’s importance to the team, saying, “I’m hoping that we try to do something with Ramos here. I’m hoping we do something with big Ramos here to retain him soon.”
If Ramos hits free agency, he would ascend to the top of a very weak class of free agents. He’d certainly lead the class of free agent catchers, which includes Alex Avila, Drew Butera, Jason Castro, A.J. Ellis, Nick Hundley, Jeff Mathis, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski, Geovany Soto, Josh Thole, and Matt Wieters. Ryan Hanigan, Chris Iannetta, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Ruiz, and Kurt Suzuki could also become free agents if their options don’t vest or aren’t picked up by their current clubs.
In the event Ramos leaves, the Nationals might choose to give catching prospect Pedro Severino a shot. He has already made his major league debut but played in only two games in 2015 and three games this season. Severino, though, hasn’t yet developed a hit tool that can pass muster at the major league level. He’s known more for his defense. The Nationals’ other catching prospect, Tres Barrera, was drafted in the sixth round in the 2016 draft and has been playing in the New York Penn League, so he’s at least a few years away from the majors.