Wilson Ramos was one of the few trade deadline acquisitions that actually paid off for the Phillies this year. Will he come back next season?
The trade deadline was a bit different this year for the Phillies as they were buyers for the first time in years. They had a good rotation but needed offensive help and an arm or two to bolster the bullpen. What followed was a flurry of moves meant to improve the team for the playoff stretch without making any long-term commitments.
One of the quieter moves was the acquisition of catcher Wilson Ramos. Normally, an All-Star being traded at the deadline makes waves. However, he was recovering from a hamstring injury and would possibly not be ready until September. Due to this, Philadelphia only had to give up cash or a player to be named later.
Ramos was off to a hot start with the Rays before being injured. In 78 games, he had a .297/.346/.488 line with 14 home runs, 53 runs batted in, and 1.7 fWAR. He was named to his second career All-Star Game but could not participate.
What impact did Ramos make during his month and a half as a Phillie? Should the team look to bring him back for 2019?
Upon joining the team, Ramos instantly became one of the best hitters on the team. In 33 games, he had a .337/.396/.483 line with 17 runs batted in. Ironically, only Jorge Alfaro, the catcher Ramos had to split time with, had a better OPS and wRC+ after Ramos’s debut on Aug. 15.
As a whole, almost everything Ramos did offensively was positive.
He had a 9.9% walk rate and 18.8% strikeout, both among the better rates on the team. He had a net win probability of 0.43 in Philadelphia. Factor in that the team did not really give up anything from Ramos, and the trade was a clear win for them.
Ramos also did well catching potential base stealers as a Phillie. He threw out nine of 16, or 44%, of runners. This was significantly above the 28% league-average rate.
Ramos was the fourth-most valuable position player on the team in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement and seventh-most in Fangraphs WAR. This is despite the fact he was only playing here for a month and a half.
While Ramos hit plenty as a Phillie, it wasn’t for as much power as in Tampa Bay. He hit just one home run in 101 plate appearances as a Phillie compared to 14 in 315 plate appearances as a Ray. His isolated power fell from .191 to .146. Ramos had a 23.3% home run to fly ball ratio in Tampa Bay but a 6.7% ratio in Philadelphia.
It was also clear that Ramos was limited by the hamstring injury even after his return. He made just 22 starts behind the plate, often needing several days off for rest. He admitted upon returning from the disabled list that he was playing sore. This ultimately led to Ramos not making as big of an impact as we would hope given the caliber of player he is.
WILSON RAMOSCatcher, Philadelphia Phillies
While Ramos did not make as much of an impact as he could have given his injury, he was still one of the best hitters on the team after the trade. The team knew what they were getting into by trading for a hurt Ramos, and he still provided them with good value.
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Will he return?
Whether or not to re-sign Ramos is one of the bigger questions the front office has to face for the offseason. The team clearly didn’t feel confident in rolling with the tandem of Alfaro and Andrew Knapp behind the plate, or else they wouldn’t have traded for Ramos. They ideally want someone better than Knapp to pair with Alfaro.
Ramos is expected to be one of the top catchers on the free agent market this season. He is coming off arguably the best offensive season of his career and is still relatively young at 31 years old. He should be in line to get a multi-year contract this year.
In the end, whether or not Ramos is re-signed depends on how the team views Alfaro. He made good strides during his first full major-league season, but he still has a ways to go before he can be considered an above-average starting catcher in the league. Ramos will likely look for a multi-year contract, so the team will have to make a long-term assessment on Alfaro.
Once the World Series ends and the offseason truly begins, keep an eye on what the Phillies and the rest of baseball do with Ramos.