Wilson Ramos' latest injury throws wrench into trade market and All-Star Game

This is nowhere near Wilson Ramos’ first brush with injury issues. (AP Photo)

As if killing his free agency market after the 2016 season wasn’t enough, it looks like the injury bug is about to take away Wilson Ramos’ first career All-Star start. And possibly even more.

The Tampa Bay Rays catcher announced he will not be able to play in the All-Star game due to a hamstring injury on Saturday, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 30-year-old is now expected to hit the disabled list after hitting .297/.346/.488 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs to open the season.

Ramos was removed from Saturday’s game with left hamstring tightness after running to third base on a grounder, according to MLB.com. Ramos was set to start at catcher for the American League team after winning the fan vote with 2,359,726 votes.

That’s rough for Ramos, especially because this season’s All-Star game will take place in Washington D.C., where he spent most of his career before joining the Rays. Ramos left the Washington Nationals in free agency after the 2016 season and an All-Star appearance would have marked a triumphant return.

However, as long as the hamstring injury isn’t serious, there’s still a chance Ramos hasn’t seen Nationals Park for the final time this season.

Where Wilson Ramos’ trade market stands

In case you haven’t heard, the Nationals have been in need of an upgrade at catcher for nearly the entire season. The team ranks dead last in fWAR at the catcher position this season and it doesn’t look like they have an in-house solution for that, between Matt Wieters, Spencer Kieboom and Pedro Severino.

The Nationals were linked to Ramos by Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports last week, as well as Miami Marlins star J.T. Realmuto last month. Ramos himself seemed welcoming to the idea of returning to D.C. earlier this week.

The Nats have some competition for Ramos though, especially in the Houston Astros. MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported the defending champions were in contact with the Rays on a possible Ramos trade on Thursday. Catcher-needy contenders like the Red Sox and Brewers could also be possibilities.

The Astros are a curious match given they already have veteran slugger Brian McCann and strong rookie Max Stassi, but it makes sense when you consider McCann is out until at least September after undergoing knee surgery. With McCann nowhere near a sure thing for the playoffs and Stassi falling off after a hot start, there’s reason to believe the Astros could use another option at catcher.

Ramos’ injury could throw off that entire dynamic, as the Nationals might be even more worried about parting with a major asset for a catcher they know very well to have past injury issues. The Astros might still make some sense, as they don’t urgently need Ramos behind the plate and can give him regular DH appearances until the playoffs.

Yan Gomes replaces Wilson Ramos on the AL All-Star team

The Rays might be the team most hurt by Ramos’ injury, but American League All-Star manager A.J. Hinch probably wasn’t thrilled either.

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez was the only other catcher on the AL All-Star roster at the time of Ramos injury, so another catcher needed to take Ramos’ spot lest Perez catch the entire game, which would make just about everyone involved unhappy. With catchers in the AL not exactly stuffing the stat sheet this year, Hinch opted for Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Games.

Gomes is currently hitting .247/.307/.437 and is the first Brazilian-born player to make the All-Star team. He reportedly learned the news of his selection as he came to the plate during the Indians’ game on Saturday.

Wilson Ramos’ long history with injuries

Unfortunately for Ramos, this hamstring injury is nowhere near his first brush with bad injury luck. In nine major league seasons, Ramos has topped 100 games played in just three seasons, and that includes a 2016 season the came to a premature end thanks to an ACL tear.

That ACL tear was a costly one for Ramos, as it came just months before he hit free agency. Ramos likely sought a fairly large payday after an All-Star season in which he hit .307/.354/.496, but the knowledge that he would have to sit out for at least the first half of the 2017 season scared off plenty of suitors.

Ramos eventually signed with the Rays for $12.5 million over two years and has been quite the bargain during his time on the field, posting a .793 OPS in 539 total plate appearances. As long as the hamstring injury isn’t serious, he has a chance to deliver even more value for the Rays in the trade market.

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