The Detroit Tigers have found their veteran catcher for the 2021 season. Tuesday evening, news broke that Wilson Ramos inked a one-year, $2 million contract to play in Detroit, first reported by José F. Rivera of WOW DEPORTES and confirmed later by his agent. The 33-year old Ramos became a free agent in late December when the New York Mets declined his $10 million team option.
The 2020 season was not a triumphant one for Ramos, who had one of the worst seasons of his 11-year career. He hit for a .239/.297/.387 line on the abbreviated season, which tallies to an 89 wRC+, tenth among the 12 catchers who took at least 150 at-bats. His defense was enough to keep him from falling below replacement value, and he was on pace for 0.5 fWAR in a full season schedule.
The move is another place-holder addition which does nothing for the team’s future, but adding a veteran presence to the Tigers’ group of catchers was imperative this offseason. The in-house options of Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers, Dustin Garneau, and Eric Haase aren’t exactly inspiring. None of the group can even lay claim to a major league backup role at this point. With the Tigers hoping to see development from their pitching staff this season, getting an experienced veteran was important, and Ramos should be a modest improvement in the batter’s box as well.
Ideally, Rogers will take a step forward this season and assert himself as being deserving of the starting job in 2022, but his future is cloudy after the Tigers decided to keep him at the alternate site for the whole of the 2020 season. By adding Ramos to the roster on the cheap, they brought in an acceptable starter who would be easy enough to bench if someone else outplays him. It’s a perfectly sane choice, if a boring one. Frankly there were no better options available without making a trade.
At the end of the day, there’s very risk involved in this move. Ramos will almost certainly outplay the value of his contract. All three of the major projection systems at FanGraphs – Depth Charts, Steamer, and ZiPS – foresee a modest rebound at the plate. As far as bargains go, Ramos will do just fine.