Rumors

Phillies reportedly not pursuing Wilson Ramos, did have interest in Brian McCann



Wilson Ramos is a free-agent after a strong second-half with the Phillies. (Arturo Pardavila III)

Wilson Ramos only had 89 at-bats for the Philadelphia Phillies after being acquired prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but his .337 batting average in those 89 at-bats endeared him to many fans. It appears that those 89 at-bats may be the only ones that Ramos will have in red pinstripes.

On the latest edition of At The Yard, NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury said that he doesn’t get the sense that the Phillies are making a push to re-sign Ramos, who is currently a free-agent:

“I don’t think they are [pursuing Wilson Ramos]. He’s over 30 now and I think there’s a lot of questions about whether he can stay on the field. I think that’s a big concern. He obviously is a good hitter – he’s a good player. But I don’t get the impression that they are on him. I think they want to see Alfaro play.”

Maria Torres of The Los Angeles Times reported in early November that the Los Angeles Angels were among five teams that had interest in signing the 31-year-old free-agent. Given a less-than-stellar health history and that he celebrated his 31st birthday shortly before making his Phillies debut, there was some thought that the Phillies may be able to retain Ramos on a bargain type deal for 2019. However, with a slew of contenders in need of more offensive production from behind the plate, that just doesn’t seem likely.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projected that Ramos will land a three-year/$36 million free-agent contract. If the Phillies are committed to giving Alfaro – once a major piece acquired from the Texas Rangers for Cole Hamels – a chance to be the long-term starter, signing Ramos to a lucrative three-year deal wouldn’t make much sense.

Alfaro, 25, is a difficult player to evaluate. He has elite raw power for a catcher, though he hit just 10 home runs in 344 at-bats in 2018. As color commentator and Phillies Wall of Famer John Kruk would regularly point out on telecasts, Alfaro seems to have the most success driving the ball when he doesn’t swing as hard as he’s physically capable of. He’s similarly difficult to evaluate behind the plate. Alfaro has a world-class arm, one Phillies manager Gabe Kapler compared to his former teammate, Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. In terms of pitch framing, Baseball Prospectus says Alfaro has grown tremendously behind the plate. But he also had 11 errors and 10 passed balls behind the plate in 2018, so he’s far from a Gold Glove Award candidate.

Interestingly, Salisbury says that the Phillies did have some interest in one veteran backstop earlier this offseason – Brian McCann:

“I believe they kicked the tires and sniffed around a little bit on Brian McCann. I think they would like to do something backup wise.”

McCann, who will turn 35 in February, spent the past two seasons with the Houston Astros, winning a World Series title in 2017. The seven-time All-Star returned to the Braves on a one-year/$2 million deal late in November. That’s bad news for the Phillies on multiple levels, as McCann has 22 home runs, 78 RBIs and an .829 OPS in 472 career at-bats against the club. McCann joins Josh Donaldson as veteran free-agents that the Phillies reportedly had some level of interest in before they ultimately signed with the division-rival Braves.

MLB.com‘s Todd Zolecki was the first to report this offseason that the Phillies planned to check in on Miami Marlins All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Craig Mish of Sirius XM confirmed that this week, though he called the Phillies a “longshot” to ultimately land Realmuto. The feeling you are left with is that the most likely scenario for 2019 is that Alfaro will be the starting catcher, with the Phillies likely to bring in a veteran to back him up.

Andrew Knapp was the Phillies primary backup catcher in 2018, though between his .198 batting average and eight errors behind the plate in less than 400 innings, the Phillies are likely to upgrade their backup catching spot. Nick Hundley, A.J. Ellis, Chris Hermann and Devin Mesoraco are four veteran free-agents that the Phillies could consider to back-up Alfaro.

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