LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals are happy with their catching situation at this point in the offseason. Starter Wilson Ramos is healthy again after a left hamstring injury plagued him throughout the 2013 season. And general manager Mike Rizzo says that Jhonatan Solano and Sandy Leon are fine competing for the backup role.
But if Ramos gets hurt again and misses a decent chunk of time? Then it’s time to pick up the phone as they did two summers ago when acquiring Kurt Suzuki for the final two months of that season.
“The question comes in if Wilson were to get hurt for an extended period of time, can they handle the load?” Rizzo said. “Going into spring training right now, we’re comfortable with what we have. We’re always looking to upgrade.”
Ramos, 26, appeared in just 78 games last season. He posted a .777 OPS on the year, but caught fire late in the season when his legs were finally healthy. Solano, also 26, appeared in 24 games (.368 OPS) and Leon, 23, caught two – though he appeared in 12 more with the Nats in 2013. But neither reserve has shown they can hit at the major league level yet for an extended period.
The best bet for Washington is to have Ramos catch around 125 games next season so this doesn’t become an issue. His career high is 113 set in 2011. After about seven weeks off following the end of the regular season, Ramos decided to return to the field in his native Venezuela for Winter Ball. He’s remained healthy there, according to a Nats source, and the hope is he can do so all next season. It’s been an issue in the past, but Washington’s plans depend on it.
“I don’t think he needs any more regular time off than any other front line full-time catcher. He can play regularly. I don’t know what the average everyday catcher caught, what about a 125, 128 games. I think he can take on that load. And if that’s the case, we feel good about what we’ve got as our backups.”