NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Mets have agreed to a $19 million, two-year contract with free agent catcher Wilson Ramos, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The agreement signals an end to the Mets’ pursuit of Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Instead, New York turned to a two-time All-Star coming off a strong year with the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the deal has not been announced and is pending a physical.
He would get $8.25 million next year and $9.25 in 2020, and the Mets would have a $10 million option with a $1.5 million buyout.
The 31-year-old Ramos batted .306 with 15 home runs and an .845 OPS last season, ranking fifth among catchers in Wins Above Replacement at 2.4, via Fangraphs.
New York officials met last week with Ramos at the winter meetings in Las Vegas and with Yasmani Grandal, another free agent catcher, in Arizona. Ramos became the priority for the Mets, partly because of compensation required for signing Grandal, who turned down a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers. If New York had signed Grandal, the Mets would have forfeited their second-highest pick in next June’s amateur draft and $500,000 of international signing bonus allocation in 2019-20.
The Mets also discussed a possible trade for Realmuto but decided the players it would have had to give up in a swap were too high a cost.
Ramos crosses another item of the to-do list of new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. The former agent acquired All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz from Seattle and also brought back former New York closer Jeurys Familia on a $30 million, three-year deal. The team may still pursue an upgrade in center field and a left-handed reliever.
Ramos is expected to be New York’s primary catcher, with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki as possible backups. D’Arnaud, who turns 30 in February, has been on the disabled list in five straight seasons as injuries limited him to 366 major league games, an average of 73 per season.
D’Arnaud was 3 for 15 (.200) with one homer and three RBIs in four games this year when he felt tightness in his right elbow during pregame drills in Miami. He was sent to New York and had an MRI that revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek performed Tommy John surgery on April 17.
Ramos made the AL All-Star team in this year but missed the game with a hamstring issue, and injuries have been a problem for him the past few years. Most notably, he tore his right ACL at the end of a breakout 2016 season with the Washington Nationals, likely costing himself millions of dollars as a free agent that offseason. He ended up with Tampa Bay with a $12.5 million, two-year deal and earned an additional $2 million this year as an escalator for making 55 starts at catcher in 2017
He was also on the disabled list twice in 2015 — with a broken little finger in his right hand and a strained left elbow — in 2016 with a strained right rotator cuff and in 2017 with a bruised right wrist.