Mets finalize 2-year deal with catcher Ramos

December 16th, 2018

NEW YORK -- Unable to find a trade they liked for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, the Mets on Sunday moved on from that pursuit in decisive fashion when they agreed to a two-year, $19 million contract with , who will form a tandem behind the plate with . The deal will have a club option for a third year.
Ramos' agent tweeted on Monday that the catcher passed his physical and will wear No. 40 for the ballclub. The Mets held a press conference on Tuesday, after the deal was made official, to introduce their new catcher. 

Ramos has been one of baseball's top offensive catchers for much of this decade, batting .273 with a .758 OPS and an average of 14 home runs per year since 2011. Last season was one of Ramos' best, batting .306 with 15 homers and an .845 OPS in 111 games for the Rays and Phillies. Ramos is also regarded as an excellent pitch framer.
Injuries have been his most prominent issue, including a torn right knee ligament that limited him to 25 games in 2012, and that required another surgery after the 2016 season. But Ramos stayed mostly healthy last season and, in New York, the Mets do not need him to play every day. Ramos can split time with d'Arnaud, another oft-injured catcher who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be ready for Opening Day. The Mets will also have to make a decision on , who is arbitration-eligible and out of Minor League options.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said earlier this offseason that other teams have expressed interest in acquiring one of the Mets' catchers via trade, making that a possible avenue to clear roster space.
However the playing time shakes out, the Mets appear set at catcher after spending much of December in pursuit of Realmuto. One of the best backstops in baseball, Realmuto has been coveted by more than a half-dozen teams, but the Mets balked at the reported asking price of young, controllable Major League talent -- , , or even .
At the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last week, Van Wagenen met with Ramos in person. Then he struck a deal with the 31-year-old, setting the market for catchers just as Van Wagenen did for relievers with his three-year, $30-million offer to . In doing so, Van Wagenen appears to have called off his pursuits of Realmuto, and , who were also available on the free-agent market.
Now, in mid-December, Van Wagenen has already completed much of what he set out to do this winter. In Ramos, the Mets added to their catching depth with a two-time All-Star. In Familia and , the team added two core pieces to a bullpen that ranked 28th in ERA last season.
Also on the Mets' wish list is a right-handed-hitting outfielder -- they have checked into A.J. Pollock and , among others -- and a lefty reliever. Van Wagenen said the Mets are unlikely to pursue top free agents or Zach Britton to fill the latter hole, likely settling on lower-priced targets.