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2016 Nats roster outlook: An important year for Wilson Ramos

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2016 Nats roster outlook: An important year for Wilson Ramos

Age on Opening Day 2016: 28

How acquired: Trade with Twins, July 2010

2016 salary: $5.35 million

2015 stats: 128 G, 504 PA, 41 R, 109 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 0 SB, 21 BB, 101 SO, .229 BA, .258 OBP, .358 SLG, .616 OPS, 64 OPS+, 6 E, 0.8 WAR

2016 storyline: There is no question this is an important year for Wilson Ramos, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. He is due to make $5.35 million in 2016 before becoming eligible for free agency for the first time in his career.

Last season Ramos proved he could stay healthy and catch a full season. Now he needs to show he can not only stay on the field, but reach his potential as an offensive player as well.

Ramos' numbers in 2015 were a disappointing considering the talent he displayed in previous years. His .229 average, .258 OBP, .358 slugging percentage and .616 OPS were all career-lows. They were all far below the .268/.318/.434 slash-line and .752 OPS he posted from 2011 through 2014 with the Nats.

Ramos was durable and played good enough defense to be a Gold Glove finalist in 2015, but he will likely need to improve his offensive numbers to earn a new contract with the Nationals. And whether he ends up staying in Washington or signs elsewhere, this next season will be very important in determining his MLB future.

Best-case scenario: This one is quite simple. Ramos could earn himself a lot of money next offseason if he stays healthy like he did in 2015, but produce with the offensive numbers he put up in the four years before that. 

If Ramos could hit .270 with an OPS north of .740 or so, with somewhere close to 20 homers, he would rank among the best catchers in baseball. There is generally so little offense coming from that position, that he could really separate himself and set up for either a lucrative long-term deal in Washington or in another city. Good, power-hitting catchers don't grow on trees and Ramos has the ability to be one of the best of them.

Worst-case scenario: Let's set health aside for this because if he misses 100 games again due to some injury, then obviously that's a worst-case scenario. But what could be just as damaging for Ramos is if he stays healthy, but sees his offensive numbers dip even lower.

If Ramos hits below .229 and creeps towards the Mendoza line, and if his OBP falls below .250 or so, he could raise questions about his viability as a starting catcher altogether. That would not be good for him considering the timing of his contract.

Most-likely scenario: Assuming Ramos can stay healthy again - he says he's working three times as hard this offseason to prepare for 2016 - one has to expect his offensive numbers to go up. As much as him staying off the DL this past season was an aberration in his career, so were his prolonged slumps at the plate.

Ramos is more likely to see his average go up to or over the .250 mark with his OPS eclipsing .700. Both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project that for him in 2016, with BR having him set a career-high with 17 homers. 

Now, whether that is enough to keep in D.C. long-term is hard to tell at this point.

[RELATED: Bryce Harper gives emotional acceptance speech for MVP award]

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.