Sometimes the smartest moves are the ones where you don’t make the big splash and just do what’s right for the team.
That’s what happened today when the Mets ended their Don Quixote-like pursuit for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and just went out and signed Wilson Ramos for a reportedly 2-year $19 million contact.
By all accounts, the Mets tried to get Realmuto, the far superior and cheaper option, but after trading their All-Star outfield, second baseman and first baseman for almost nothing, Derek Jeter’s team was determined to get the most for Realmuto.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen was right to try as hard as he could, but then quickly pivot to Ramos, who is a capable catcher, even though he’s not in Realmuto’s class.
With Jeter wanting the Mets to atone for his past sins, Ramos became the man for the Mets. Hitting .306 last season with 15 home runs and 70 RBI playing for the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies, he is known as an offensive catcher, but still has some good defensive skills.
Since most of his career was spent in Washington and Philadelphia, he knows the NL East, which is something that made him more appealing, as opposed to Yasmani Grandal, who would have commanded a larger contract with compensation because he rejected the Dodgers qualifying offer.
Now, this is no slam dunk. Ramos missed most of 2017 recovering from an ACL tear he suffered at the end of the 2016 season. So health may be an issue here.
But when he is healthy, he showed he can hit with All-Star appearances in 2016 and last season and is definitely an upgrade over Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
And since Van Wagenen added Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Ramos for around $20 million on the payroll, there is room for more moves. Outfielders A.J. Pollock and Adam Jones are rumored to be on the short list for an outfield spot and there is a need for a lefty reliever, although a high end name like Andrew Miller may not be on that list, since the GM said he is looking to make a smaller splash there.
But signing Ramos means the Mets get to keep some of their young assets like Noah Syndergaard, Ahmed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. One of those was going to be the centerpiece of a Realmuto deal.
Now, Jeter will look elsewhere to move his catcher, as the Mets have theirs for the next two seasons.
And that’s why this may be the smartest of Met moves.