The Washington Nationals made a substantive trade Thursday and it had nothing at all to do with Adam Dunn.

Go figure.

The Nationals traded All-Star closer Matt Capps to the Minnesota Twins for minor league catcher Wilson Ramos.

The Nationals just got a whole lot better.

Capps, who saved his 25th game on Thursday, has a record of 3-3 with a fine ERA of just 2.80. The 26-year-old has already saved 92 major league games.

But as good as Capps is, he was expendable because bad teams don’t need All-Star closers and his heir apparent, former first-round pick Drew Storen, is pitching even better. Storen is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA, allowing just 7.3 hits per nine-innings while striking out eight.

The Nationals also have several quality relievers currently in the minors to replace him, so the loss of Capps will make minimal difference—if any—for the rest of the season.

And in return they didn’t receive a run-of-the-mill prospect who is usually traded for a rental player.

Wilson Ramos, 22, signed in 2004 with the Twins as an amateur free agent. In five minor league seasons, Ramos has batted .284/.331/.427 with 36 home runs and 211 RBI (which averages out to about 16 homers and 75 RBI over a full minor league season).

Ramos was recalled from Triple-A Rochester earlier this season when Twins catcher Joe Mauer was injured. He batted a solid .296/321/.407 in 27 at-bats. In his first game, he went 4-5, the first Twin to garner four hits in his first game since Kirby Puckett in 1984 and is the only catcher in the modern era to do it.

He returned to the minors when Mauer rejoined the team.

He is a solid defensive catcher, throwing out 43% of would-be base stealers over his minor league career and has a .987 fielding percent over that span.

He has a perfect catcher’s build. He hits for a good average and has real home run power. His walk-to-strikeout rate isn’t wonderful, but he is just 22.

Ramos was added to the Twins 40-man roster in 2008 and Aaron Gleeman lists him as the Twins third best prospect. Baseball America has him at number four.

Says baseball insider Keith Law,” Ramos has had trouble staying healthy, but when he plays he hits, and he plays a premium position at which bats like his are hard to find.”

Ramos is considered one of the very best catching prospects in all of baseball and the only reason he wasn’t the Twins’ Opening Day catcher was due to some guy named Joe Mauer.

If Jesus Flores returns, the Nationals will have two good hitting catchers who are both solid defensively. If he doesn’t return, Ramos should become the Nationals starting catcher for years to come.

The Nationals also received minor league pitcher Joe Testa, who in three seasons as a reliever, has gone 10-7, 3.33.

This trade is indicative of a couple of things. First, General Manager Mike Rizzo demands a lot from a potential trade partner but holds firm and gets what he wants.

Secondly, if he can get this kind of return for Capps, imagine what an Adam Dunn trade will bring the Nationals.

I think a Dunn deal is now a matter of when, not if.

Lastly, catcher Derek Norris, one of the Nationals’ top prospects, is now expendable and might be packaged in a deal that would bring the Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson to Washington.


The Washington Nationals just got a whole lot better. Thanks, Mike.

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