Back on July 18th, Boston Globe.com writer Nick Carfado wrote in a note about the Minnesota Twins' plans heading into the July 31st Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in an article entitled, "Gonzalez likely is gonzo, it’s now a matter of when", that, "The Twins have been dangling catcher Wilson Ramos in trade for a prime pitcher, but with possible concern over [Twins' catcher Joe] Mauer they have become slightly more hesitant." Late Thursday night, FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) had Tweeted that the, "#Twins seem more confident about adding [a] reliever than starter," just moments before the announcement was made that the Washington Nationals had, in fact, dealt closer Matt Capps, (who the Nationals signed as a free agent this winter after the Pittsburgh Pirates had non-tendered the 26-year-old 5-year veteran), to Minnesota in return for the top catching prospect in the Twins' system, 22-year-old Wilson Ramos. ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian had reported earlier this week that the Twins were interested in Capps, but as MLBTraderumors.com's Tim Dierkes wrote, Mr. Kurkjian noted that, "...he feels that the Nats would want catching prospect Wilson Ramos in return,":
"...and the Twins would be unwilling to make that deal. I wouldn't blame them - they may be aiming to replace Jon Rauch, but Capps is not a shutdown stopper either."
The Twins were apparently willing, as MLB.com's Bill Ladson confirmed shortly after Mr. Morosi's tweet in an article entitled, "Nats land prized Ramos from Twins for Capps", where Mr. Ladson wrote that:
"The Nationals traded closer Matt Capps, the team's lone All-Star representative, and cash to the Twins for catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Joe Testa..."
Ramos, ranked the no.2 overall prospect in the Twins' system by Baseball America's John Manuel in the Jan 2010 preseason rankings, is also labeled the "Best Power Hitter" and "Best Defensive Catcher". The 22-year-old 6'0'', 220lb Ramos was the 42nd overall prospect (11 spots behind Nats' catcher Derek Norris) on ESPN.com's Keith Law's list of the "Top MLB Prospects 2010", with Mr. Law describing the backstop as a player who, "...has had trouble staying healthy,":
"...but when he plays he hits, and he plays a premium position at which bats like his are hard to find. He missed time in 2009 with a broken finger and a partially torn hamstring, which makes his .317/.341/.454 line in 54 games at Double-A even more impressive."
Twins' GM Bill Smith appeared on MLB Network Radio with Minors and Majors host Grant Paulsen (@minorsandmajors) shortly after the deal was announced, and had this to say about the player the Nats were acquiring:
"They're getting a very talented young catcher who's got severe power, you know, big-time raw power, he's got a strong arm, he's got all the skills you look for in a young catcher. We've had him, we signed him as a young man in Venezuela, he's come through our system, and it's a tough decision to give up a good young player like that, but again, to get an All-Star closer, that's the price you have to play."
Ramos has hit .241/.280/.345 in 71 games at Triple-A Rochester this season, but he's compiled a .284/.331/.427 slash line over five seasons at all four levels of the Twins' system with 83 doubles, 36 HR's and 211 RBI's, impressing in a seven-game stint with the Twins earlier this season when he put up a .296 AVG and .729 OPS in 27 at bats. Joe Testa is a 24-year-old left-hander who's (10-7) with 10.7 K/9 over three seasons and four stops in the Minnesota organization. Ramos will reportedly start at Triple-A Syracuse with Testa is ticketed for Potomac.
Not to put a damper on things, but as I was finishing this up, Buster Olney appeared on ESPN to talk about the Nats' newest catching prospect, here's Mr. Olney's quick report:
Buster Olney: "At the beginning of the year, [Wilson Ramos] was actually very highly regarded, he has not had a good season, his stock has fallen, but maybe going to the Nationals will help light a fire under him."
Matt Capps, who narrowed his options down to a choice between two teams this winter and chose the Nats over the Cubs, signing for 1-year/$3.5M because he saw a quicker route to a closer job, saved 26 games after earning the job this Spring, and posted a 2.80 ERA, 3.51 FIP, and 7.40 K/9 over 45.0 IP for the Nats, earning an All-Star selection during which he struck out the Boston Red Sox David Ortiz in front of a national audience, setting himself up to earn a substantial raise should he go to arbitration, As for Capps' replacement, the Nats beat writers are reporting that relievers Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett will form a closer by committee for the time being...
In Rizzo We Trust.