The Washington Nationals have opted not to extend a qualifying offer to catcher Wilson Ramos, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. The free agent catcher is now on the open market and able to sign with any team and that team will no longer have to worry about parting with a draft pick to add him to their squad.
Ramos, 29, looked like a sure-fire qualifying offer candidate prior to tearing his ACL late in the season. After weighing their options, the Nationals decided that it was too big a risk to extend the qualifying offer, valued at $17.2 million this year, to a catcher that could miss most of next year and may not even be ready to catch immediately upon return. The qualifying offer is just a one-year deal, so if the team had extended it and he missed over half the season, he would have been guaranteed the money and still could have left the team next winter for a long term deal. Even though the Nationals have opted to not extend the offer, the organization could still choose to sign him to a long term deal this offseason.
The catching market is quite bare and Ramos is at the top of the list of most teams, which could start a bidding war assuming his medicals check out okay. After a shaky 2015 season, Ramos bounced back with a solid 2016 season, earning an All-Star selection in the process. He slashed .307/.354/.496, setting a career high with 22 home runs and 80 runs batted in. Scouts have long thought he could be an offensive force, but scouts were impressed with his continued development on defense, especially framing pitches.
While he will likely remain behind the plate, though he does have a bit on an injury history, but an American League team could opt to save some wear and tear on his knees and ask him to be a DH part time. It remains to be seen what teams will be comfortable offering, but make no mistake about it, he is the best catcher on the market and some team will pay as such, especially now that they know they don't have to part with draft pick compensation.null