The Rays reportedly have inked a two-year deal with catcher Wilson Ramos, formerly of the Washington Nationals. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison)
The Rays reportedly have inked a two-year deal with catcher Wilson Ramos, formerly of the Washington Nationals. (Photo Credit: Keith Allison)

On the third day of the MLB Winter Meetings, the Tampa Bay Rays did the unexpected and dipped their toes into the free-agent market, inking a two-year deal with the 29 year-old catcher Wilson Ramos, formerly of the Washington Nationals. The deal is pending a physical, which is no sure thing due to a torn ACL incurred last season, requiring surgery.

Ramos will receive a total of $12.5-million guaranteed, with the potential to make up to $18.25-million with incentives over two seasons — $4-million in 2017, $8.5-million in 2018, $5.75-million in incentives.

He is currently rehabilitating his right knee and likely will not return to big league action until June, leaving Tampa Bay with its current tandem of Curt Casali and Luke Maile behind the plate until his return. Per Rays beat writer Marc Topkin (Twitter link), Ramos may DH at first, but the plan is for him to catch.

Ramos slashed .307 BA/.354 OBP/.496 SLG/.850 OPS in 523 plate appearances last season with the Nationals. Over his seven year career, Ramos collected a solid .269 BA/.313 OBP/.430 SLG/.743 OPS line with 83 home runs — 22 of of which came in 2016.

His 2016 campaign earned him his first Silver Slugger Award and All-Star berths, also catapulting him to a 3.5 fWAR season (10.3 fWAR overall). He boasts solid defense behind the plate, although StatCorner rates him as a slightly below-average pitch framer. For what it’s worth, Ramos does rank higher than Welington Castillo, who the Rays were interested in at the start of the Winter Meetings.

Winter Meetings recap: Day two

Aside from the tentative acquisition of Ramos, no other deals were made by the Rays front office team on Tuesday. Here’s a rundown of the rumors swirling around the Rays on the third day of the Winter Meetings.

— The biggest news of the day, by in large, was the trade of Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

How does that relate to the Rays? Never mind the fact that Tampa Bay plays Boston 18-19 times per season — meaning the Rays will face Sale four or five times in 2017 — according to Jeff Passan (Yahoo), Rays starters are now drawing more interest with Sale off the market. It is Passan’s opinion that the Rays are almost certain to deal a starting pitcher this winter, although they are unlikely to trade Chris Archer since his asking price is beyond prohibitive.

Because of it, Tampa Bay will likely move either Alex Cobb or Drew Smyly to take advantage of a weak free agent pitching market. The interest in Cobb is somewhat surprising, seeing that he made only six starts in 2016 following his return from Tommy John surgery.

— Okay, I lied…the Rays did make a second move Tuesday. They inked a new three-year deal with radio man Andy Freed, that will keep him calling games through 2019.

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