Even when Wilson Ramos returns to the Tampa Bay Rays lineup, they are going to need some help behind the plate. Regardless of how good Ramos has looked during his drills, the Rays are not going to want him to be behind the plate every time he is in the lineup.
In theory, that was supposed to be Derek Norris. Signed after he was released by the Washington Nationals, Norris was expected to get the lion’s share of the work behind the plate in the first half, and then to spell Ramos in the second part of the season.
Unfortunately, while Norris has been in the lineup on a frequent basis, he is not producing much of anything offensively. Heading into yesterday’s action, Norris has produced a .205/.270/.326 batting line with a decidedly Jose Molina=esque 68 OPS+. Even Jesus Sucre has outperformed Norris this year.
Once Ramos comes back, Norris may only be in the lineup two or three times a week. Yet, for the level of production that the Rays were hoping for, that is two or three times too much. Finding an upgrade at backup catcher could be a cost effective solution to help solidify the lineup. Frankly, given Norris’ production this year, such an upgrade may not be difficult to find.
The Tampa Bay Rays have typically had a black hole in the lineup at catcher, and this year has not been different. That may change once Wilson Ramos is healthy, but they need something better behind him.