Nats decline to extend qualifying offer to Ramos

Nats decline to extend qualifying offer to Ramos

WASHINGTON -- With his status for Opening Day 2017 still in question after a torn ACL near the end of last season, the Nationals did not extend a qualifying offer to catcher Wilson Ramos, a source told on Monday. The club has not confirmed.

The move comes as no surprise considering Ramos underwent surgery to replace three ligaments in his right knee in October and the team projected he had a six-to-eight-month timetable to return. With Ramos likely sidelined until June, it would have been difficult to extend him the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer before Monday's deadline at 5 p.m. ET. He could still sign with Washington if the two sides can come to another agreement, but the Nationals would not receive Draft-pick compensation if he chooses to sign elsewhere.

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The injury struck at the worst time for Ramos, 29, who was in the midst of a breakout season in 2016. After a new workout program and LASIK surgery to improve his eyesight in Spring Training, Ramos was hitting .307/.354/.496 with 22 home runs, all of which were career highs, and his 124wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) was the best in the Majors among catchers.

Ramos would have been one of the most highly sought-after free agents in a catching market that also includes Matt Weiters, Kurt Suzuki and Jason Castro, among others. But he landed awkwardly on a play at the plate during a game on Sept. 27 and immediately fell to the ground, ending his season prematurely and forcing him to miss the postseason.

Ramos has now undergone two ACL surgeries in his right knee in his career and his market this offseason remains unclear. He admitted late last season that he was not sure if he would be able to catch every day right after returning from his injury and said he might be best suited to sign with an American League team so he could also serve as a designated hitter.

Without Ramos during the postseason, the Nationals used a combination of catchers Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino, their No. 14 prospect as rated by, to replace him. Washington was impressed by Severino, 23, and will have to decide whether he is ready to take over the starting job.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.