Wilson Ramos put together a big season on the way to free agency in 2016. Over the course of 131 games and 523 plate appearances, the then-29-year-old catcher had a .307/.354/.496 line with 25 doubles and 22 home runs, both career highs, in what was a 3.5 fWAR campaign to that point. But he blew out his knee in a September 26th game in Nationals Park, suffering a second devastating injury to his right knee.
Ramos injured his knee in 2012, and needed surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL that season. He returned to the Nationals’ lineup and was better than ever in 2016 when he once again injured the knee. He underwent surgery to repair the ACL “... along with repairs to the medial meniscus and lateral meniscus,” in mid-October of 2016, and the Nationals made the decision not to make a qualifying offer to the backstop that winter, allowing him to become a free agent.
“I love Willy. I always have,” GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jorge Castillo at the General Managers’ meetings in November of 2016.
“We’ve been through hell and high water together. He’s a great player. [It was an] unfortunate injury. It was tough for him. But we’re in discussions ... it’s going to be a creative deal for him to come back for us. The risk is shared by both sides. He’s a guy that we love to have. He’s earned the right to see where he’s at in the marketplace.”
Ramos signed a 2-year/$12.5M deal with the Tampa Bay Rays that December, and was back behind the plate in late June of 2017. He ended up putting up a .260/.290/.447 line over 64 games and 224 plate appearances, with six doubles and 11 HRs in a 0.4 fWAR season.
Another year removed from his second knee injury, Ramos, who can become a free agent again this winter, has a .301/.346/.466 line, eight doubles, and seven homers in 46 games and 188 PAs this season, over which he’s been worth 0.9 fWAR.
He told reporters, as quoted by Tampa Bay Times’ writer Marc Topkin, that he was excited about returning to the nation’s capital tonight for the start of a two-game set between the Rays and Nationals.
“I’m very excited to go back and play there,” Ramos said. “I’ve got good memories. The fans love me in that city. It’s going to be very special for me.”
Reminiscing about his time in D.C., where he hit his first career walk-off home run in June of 2011, and caught three no-hitters (one with Jordan Zimmermann; two with Max Scherzer) as well as Scherzer’s 20-K game, Ramos said he looked forward to coming to Washington and facing the Nationals.
“Those are great moments in my career with that team,” Ramos said.
His first at bat back in Nationals Park since he injured his knee that September should be quite a moment. WILLLLLLLLLLLSONNNN!!!!