The Nationals have had some very good catchers in their history like Ivan Rodriguez and Brian Schneider, and they have always been in search of an All-Star catcher of their own. When the Nationals acquired Pudge Rodriguez, he was at the end of his career, literally.
It wasn’t until the 2016 season that the Nationals finally had an All-Star catcher, but it was short-lived as Ramos appears to be headed to free agency. Wilson Ramos was able to be mentored under Pudge, and that has to be one of the reasons Ramos became such a great defensive catcher.
Ramos was considered one of the best offensive catchers in the Minor Leagues when he was acquired by the Nationals from the Twins in the Matt Capps trade. Ramos batted .317 for the Twins Double-A affiliate in 2009, and was the 58th top prospect in the Baseball America rankings when the Nationals acquired him in 2010. Ramos never really put together a full season of stardom until 2016 mostly because he faded off in May 2015 or injured in 2014 and injuries in prior years. The potential was always there, and the key was Ramos just needed to stay healthy.
The Nationals catcher of the future might very will be Pedro Severino who slashed .321/.441/.607/1.048 in 2016 in a sample size of 34 plate appearances. Severino has been considered to be an above average defensive catcher, and Jose Lobaton who enters his final season of team control has been a career backup who has struggled much of his career with the bat hovering around the low .200’s in batting average.
Severino has a career Minor League slash of .243/.294/.338/.632 which is why most discount those robust stats that Severino just put up in September. Still, he might be the Nationals best option even if the team does not re-sign Wilson Ramos who is out anyway due to his knee surgery,and Ramos would not be available on Opening Day of 2017 regardless.
The available potential free agent list is slim with Matt Wieters and Jason Castro or looking at some trade potentials or riskier looks at some catchers who have struggled in recent years like Derek Norris.
A source we spoke to in the Nationals system said they are confident with Pedro Severino and Jose Lobaton going forward, but they are not closing the door to the idea of bringing back Wilson Ramos.