By Evan Brunell
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped, the Denver Post's bilingual website, VivaColorado.com, reports, with other media sources corroborating the news.
According to El Nacional, Ramos was approached by four gunmen outside his home and taken away. A source said that the kidnappers have yet to contact the family, but El Universal says the "Body of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations" arm of the government has already set up operations at Ramos' home.
El Universal adds that Ramos was taken away in a green car. (UPDATE: The car has been found about an hour away from the where the abduction took place. And the kidnappers still have yet to contact the Ramos family).
Ramos hails from Venezuela, where there is a significant problem with kidnapping. Generally, these crimes are for money and Ramos was a logical target, given that his success in the majors earned him the right to a league-minimum contract, which was $414,500 in 2011. That's a lot of money to most people, especially in Venezuela.
Kidnappings are becoming more and more popular in Venezuela as a way to make money. Many kidnappings are called "express" kidnappings, as the Post writes. This type of kidnapping is when armed men drive a victim around until a ransom is paid.
A U.S. Department of State crime safety report says “groups that specialize in these types of crimes operate with impunity or fear of incarceration.”
Ramos had been planning on playing in around 10 games with the Tigres de Aragua, part of the Venezuelan Winter League, the Washington Post writes. Other Nationals are also in the country to play in the VWL, although none of them were going to be teammates with Ramos.
The 24-year-old just completed his rookie season with Washington, hitting .267/.334/.445 in 435 plate appearances, slugging 15 homers. The righty supplanted Ivan Rodriguez as the starting catcher early on and is expected to start at catcher next season.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.