One of the bigger issues facing the Baltimore Orioles this off season is what to do about catcher, Matt Wieters. As we all know, Wieters was a free agent last season, but he accepted the Orioles’ qualifying offer and returned to the team for the 2016 season. However the rumors are that if the Orioles even make Wieters a qualifying offer (which they may not), he might not accept it.
There are a lot of factors to consider here. First off, should the Orioles bring Wieters back at all? And I suspect that for most fans the answer to that is going to be yes. Wieters has a career .992 fielding percentage, is a career .256 hitter (which is good for a catcher), and above all of that he’s a team leader and a positive force in the clubhouse. So should the Orioles bring him back? I say yes to that question – but there are also other things to consider.
The qualifying offer this year is going to be in the $17 million range. That means that if any given player accepts that qualifying offer, he’s signing with you for that amount for one year. Is Wieters worth $17 million for one season? If you feel that he’s a missing piece you might need to put you over the top to win a world series, then yes he is. But in the Orioles’ case he’s in essence the status quo. They wouldn’t be gaining anything, although they’d be gaining by not losing something.
It’s tight line to toe for sure. While Caleb Joseph had a down year at the plate, most fans also know what he’s capable of doing. Would he not be a viable candidate to be a starting catcher on many teams – contenders at that? I suspect that he would. And I suspect that he’d be far from the bottom in terms of being a starting catcher.
The Orioles are fairly deep at the catcher position organizationally, which is in their favor. Make no mistake about the fact that Matt Wieters is an asset to any team on which he would play. The Orioles would be better with him throwing runners out at second base trying to steal, or blocking the plate (once the ball arrives of course) as a runner tries to score…
…the point is whether or not the position is “leveragable.” That aside, there should be no question that the Orioles will offer Wieters a contract. The question is whether or not Wieters and his agent, Scott Boras, will be willing to sign for what the Orioles offer. I suspect that what will happen is that the Orioles will make Wieters a competitive offer. And by that, I mean a very legitimate offer. However someone else will step up and in essence overpay for him.
That would of course leave the Orioles with Caleb Joseph as their starting catcher. Is he Matt Wieters? No. But Matt Wieters isn’t Caleb Joseph either. Having him as your starting catcher isn’t a horrible place in which to be.
I can’t stress enough that the Birds are a better team with Wieters than they are without. So if they can get a deal done, they need to do that. However it might also pay to save that money so that the likes of Machado, Schoop, and even Tillman can be re-signed. All of those things are factors.