| Detroit Free Press
AJ Hinch: ‘In a perfect world’ Detroit Tigers sign a catcher
Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch checks in Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, to discuss the roster and free-agent market as spring training looms.
Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
The team has not yet announced the deal, as it is pending a physical.
Ramos, 33, played 45 games for the New York Mets in 2020. The two-time All-Star hit .239 with five home runs and 15 RBIs. In the 2019 season, he registered a .288 batting average, 14 homers and 73 RBIs, with 44 walks to 69 strikeouts, in 141 games.
The veteran right-handed hitter is the third significant signing by the Tigers this winter. On Dec. 23, right-handed pitcher Jose Urena agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal. Less than two weeks later, on Jan. 5, they snagged outfielder Robbie Grossman on a two-year, $10 million contract.
In his 11-year career, Ramos owns a .274 batting average, 128 homers and 514 RBIs in 946 games. He made the All-Star Game in 2016 and 2018. His best season came in 2016 with the Washington Nationals, when he posted a .307 average, 22 homers and 80 RBIs in 131 contests.
Ramos has played for the Minnesota Twins (2010), Nationals (2010-16), Tampa Bay Rays (2017-18), Philadelphia Phillies (2018) and Mets (2019-20).
Before adding Ramos, the Tigers had two catchers — Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner — on the 40-man roster. Rogers made his MLB debut in 2019, hitting .125 in 35 games and hasn’t returned to the big leagues. Greiner is a .194 hitter in 106 games across three seasons.
Also, the organization picked up Dustin Garneau on a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Garneau, 33, has competed in 140 games during parts of six seasons.
“I don’t have anybody penciled in to make our team on the catching side,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Tuesday, before Ramos signed. “I have numbers. We’re going to have seven or eight catchers (in spring training), and if we add another one, so be it. Those spots are open.”
Because of Ramos’ experience as an offense-first catcher, the Tigers can get Rogers — ranked by MLB Pipeline as the team’s No. 12 prospect — back to the majors without giving him more than he can handle. It’s unlikely Ramos commands the role of a full-time starter.
Defensively, Ramos had minus-11 defensive runs saved in 2019 and minus-one defensive runs saved in 2020. Two years ago, he allowed 10 passed balls. Last year, he had four passed balls.
In 2018, Ramos’ 48.2% hard-hit rate was among the league’s best, putting him in the 93rd percentile. He was in the 66th percentile with a 42% hard-hit rate in 2020, along with a 7.1% barrel rate (43rd percentile), .248 expected batting average (45th percentile), 89 mph exit velocity (53rd percentile) and 20% strikeout rate (64th percentile).