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Nats may be eyeing reunion with All-Star Ramos

MLB.com @_dadler

Two years after the Nationals allowed Wilson Ramos to leave via free agency and replaced him with Matt Wieters, Ramos will return to Washington as the American League's All-Star starter at catcher in the middle of a resurgent season for the Rays. But by the time the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline hits, he could be back in a Nats uniform.

With a need for catching help, the Nationals have their former backstop as a trade target, per a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, writing for Fancred. And according to reports from both Heyman and the Washington Post's Jorge Castillo, the Rays have been scouting the Nats' farm system as the two teams discuss a potential trade for Ramos. Per Castillo, Tampa Bay has had two scouts at Class A Advanced Potomac games the past few days.

Two years after the Nationals allowed Wilson Ramos to leave via free agency and replaced him with Matt Wieters, Ramos will return to Washington as the American League's All-Star starter at catcher in the middle of a resurgent season for the Rays. But by the time the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline hits, he could be back in a Nats uniform.

With a need for catching help, the Nationals have their former backstop as a trade target, per a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, writing for Fancred. And according to reports from both Heyman and the Washington Post's Jorge Castillo, the Rays have been scouting the Nats' farm system as the two teams discuss a potential trade for Ramos. Per Castillo, Tampa Bay has had two scouts at Class A Advanced Potomac games the past few days.

Ramos and the Nationals would be a perfect match. Not only was Ramos once an All-Star for Washington in 2016, he would provide catching depth as the Nats try to push their way back into the National League East race. The reigning division champs sit five games back of the Phillies and Braves entering play Monday, and they've gotten very little production from the catching position.

Wieters, returning from surgery to repair a left hamstring strain, was activated from the disabled list on Monday and had been out since May 10. Wieters has struggled with the bat when he has played, however. Since joining the Nationals in 2017, the 32-year-old has hit just .226, with a .645 OPS and 13 home runs in 146 games. His replacements, Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom, haven't provided much offense, either. Severino is hitting .171 with a .510 OPS in 63 games this season, and Kieboom is hitting .220 with a .546 OPS in 21 games.

Ramos, on the other hand, looks like his old self. Now recovered from the torn ACL that cut short his 2016 season, the team was all but guaranteed to extend Ramos a qualifying offer that offseason, but it chose not to after his season-ending injury.

The 30-year-old has been one of the best hitting catchers this season, and he's hitting .289 with an .802 OPS and 12 home runs in 73 games for Tampa Bay. Only Gary Sanchez and Yadier Molina have more homers among MLB catchers.

Ramos isn't the Nationals' only option for a catching upgrade, but he might be the most likely at this point. Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher available, but he would command a steep price, and so the Nats and Marlins don't appear to have made any progress on that trade front, according to Heyman's report.

While Washington has checked in about Realmuto -- who's just 27 and controllable through 2020 -- Miami has been eyeing Victor Robles, who is the team's top prospect, and that might be too much for the Nationals to part with. Ramos, who's only under contract through this season, would be a more affordable option -- and he could still be a difference-maker in helping the Nats get back to the playoffs.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays, Wilson Ramos