It also helped that the Mets considered Ramos, 31, a better fit than Grandal, 30, in several ways. The easygoing Ramos, who is called the Buffalo for his 6-foot-1 245-pound frame rather than his personality, has a better reputation in the clubhouse.
“I want to talk to guys on the phone,” Van Wagenen said of free-agent players. “I want to look at them face to face. The players that are willing to do that are going to put themselves in a better position for us. It’s hard to agent an agent. So I like the opportunity to sit in front of players and make my own evaluations.”
While Grandal is perhaps better defensively and a better hitter against right-handed pitching, the Mets had a glaring weakness against left-handed pitching last season. Van Wagenen said Ramos, who has a .301 career average against left-handers, reduced the pressure to add a right-handed-hitting outfielder.
During Ramos’s meeting with the Mets, he said team officials did not mention his offense. They asked about his leadership of a pitching staff, his twice surgically repaired right knee and his off-season workouts.
“They know what I can do with my bat,” said Ramos, who hit .306 with 15 home runs between the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies last season. “That made me feel excited because I need to think of only one thing: that’s behind the plate.”
In vetting Ramos, in addition to the other options, Van Wagenen said he spoke to some of Ramos’s former coaches and Washington Nationals teammates. When he was an agent, Van Wagenen represented Ramos’s former teammates Ian Desmond, Drew Storen and Ryan Zimmerman.
Van Wagenen said that the Mets, in addition to giving Ramos a physical, also examined his medical file and video of his off-season workouts, and felt comfortable that Ramos could stay healthy. Ramos, who has caught more than 120 games in a season only twice because of injuries, said not having to worry about the rehabilitation of his knee this off-season had helped him improve his overall fitness.