Washington Nationals: Wilson Ramos’ Contract Status Uncertain

Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

Wilson Ramos’ knee injury could have an affect on his contract negotiations going into free agency this upcoming winter.

It’s no coincidence that Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is coming off the best offensive season of his career in 2016 after undergoing Lasik surgery to correct his vision during the offseason. The 28-year-old slashed .307/.354/.496 with 22 home runs and 80 runs batted in, all of which set career-highs.

With free agency looming, Ramos appeared to be on the cusp of a huge payday until he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last month – the same injury he suffered back in 2012. Two serious knee injuries are certainly a cause for concern, especially for someone who plays the most physically demanding position in baseball.

Ramos’ agent, Wil Polidor, told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post on Thursday that Ramos is seeking a four-or-five-year deal, but given the risk involved in signing him, teams could be reluctant to give Ramos a lucrative long-term contract and enter into wait-and-see mode.

Washington offered Ramos a three-year contract worth a little more than $30 million in September, but he felt he deserved more and ultimately turned it down. At the time, it was hard to blame his decision, as he was named to his first-ever All-Star team and was an invaluable member of a Nationals team that won 95 games.

The Nationals now face a predicament on whether they should make him a $17.2 million qualifying offer while taking into consideration the likelihood that he misses a portion of next season, or allocate that money elsewhere.

If the team does make him an offer, Ramos will have seven days to decide what he wants to do. If he accepts it, he’ll attempt to put the injury behind him and look to obtain a hefty multi-year contract in the 2017 free agency market. If he rejects it, the Nationals would receive a late first round compensatory pick in next year’s MLB draft, and the team that ends up signing Ramos would have to forfeit a draft selection.

Next: Nationals Offseason To-Do List

If Ramos and the Nationals do end up failing to strike a deal, the lack of in-house options between Pedro Severino and Jose Lobaton could force general manager Mike Rizzo into acquiring a catcher via trade or free agency.