Signing official, Ramos targets May debut with Rays; O'Conner DFA'd
UPDATE, 2:58: The $5.75-million of incentives in Ramos' deal includes an interesting provision, a $2-million raise in his 2018 salary (from $8.5M to $10.5M) based on starting 55 games at catcher AND not going back on the DL because of his knee, which protects the Rays from a late-season injury.
His other incentives are somewhat standard:
$250,000 each for starting 60, 65, 70 and 75 games at catcher
$125,000 for 300 and 325 plate appearances
$250,000 for 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.
And in 2018, $250,000 for 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.
UPDATE, 11:55: The DFA of O'Conner to make room makes even more sense, with Bloom - without getting into much detail - saying "we're aways away from him being able to play" with a 2017 return in question.
UPDATE, 11:24: Ramos just did a conference call, and the big news is that he says he expects to be ready to play in the majors by early May, at least as a DH, and then work in behind the plate. He said he is already about a month ahead of schedule in his rehab, and expects to continue to work toward an early return.
Ramos also said he was looking to sign with an AL team for that opportunity, since he would be available to hit before he was ready to catch.
DEVELOPING: The Rays have officially announced the signing of All-Star C Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal, with $12.5-million guaranteed and another $5.75-million in incentives.
Ramos is recovering from right knee surgery to repair his ACL and two meniscus tears and is not expected to be ready to play until June or July, potentially after the All-Star break.
"A healthy Wilson Ramos is one of the best all-around catchers in baseball," Rays senior VP Chaim Bloom said in a statement. "Few players at the position can impact all facets of the game like he can. We're excited for what Wilson will contribute to both our offense and our pitching staff, and we look forward to getting him back on the field soon."
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays designated for assignment longtime but oft-injured prospect catcher Justin O'Conner. The 2010 first-round pick has been considered the Rays top catching prospect, but injuries have been an issue. After being limited to 20 minor-league games this past season due to a back strain he said occurred while driving to spring training, O'Conner - the team revealed Monday - has undergone back surgery twice this off-season, in October and November.
Ramos, 29, was having a stellar season with the Washington until being injured Sept. 26, hitting .307 with 22 home runs, 80 RBIs and .850 OPS, and was going to be the otp catcher on the free-agent market.