Player agent Scott Boras is coming to Baltimore for several days, starting Monday, and will meet with club executive vice president Dan Duquette to discuss myriad subjects, including a potential extension for pending free agent Matt Wieters.
Boras said he also expects to touch base, face-to-face, with club majority owner Peter G. Angelos next week, even if ends up as more of a social call than direct negotiations. Based in Southern California, it’s somewhat rare — but not completely unusual — for Boras to travel to meet with teams during the season. Duquette often doesn’t talk contract in-season, but he did sign Adam Jones (2012) and J.J. Hardy (2014) to extensions while games were ongoing in those seasons.
Without getting into specific money or contract length, Boras said he believes there is a mutual interest between the team and their veteran catcher to continue the relationship that began when the club selected Wieters with the fifth overall pick of the 2007 draft.
After being sidelined for a chunk of the past two years, due to 2014 Tommy John surgery, the switch-hitting catcher made the All-Star team in 2016, the fourth time in his career. He is hitting .243 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs while playing in 110 games this year.
Boras said Wieters’ combination of offense and defense makes him a rare commodity on the free agent market.
“This guy is General Grant and General Lee. He is the North and the South. He can do it all,” Boras told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “He is all-around.”
Wieters, considered one of the team’s leaders, caught his 800th big league game on Friday, and his agent said that whomever ends up signing Wieters will be doing so as a catcher – a position he could play for five more years and beyond.
“It’s a position that plays better for guys in their 30s versus their 20s,” Boras said. “He’s in his prime years. It’s not like Matt Wieters needs to play another position. He’s there (on the field) to catch.”
Several top catchers have moved, temporarily or permanently, to first base or other positions as they have aged, including Joe Mauer, Mike Napoli, and perhaps baseball’s best all-around catcher Buster Posey, who has played first base 14 times this season and 42 times in 2015.
The Orioles already have a Boras client, Chris Davis, locked up at first base for the next five-plus years after he signed a $161 million deal this offseason. Wieters has started at designated hitter just twice this year and there are questions as to whether his bat would be effective there on a long-term basis.
There also were questions as to whether Wieters could remain effective behind the plate after recovering from elbow surgery. This season, he has thrown out 19 of 57 potential basestealers, a rate of 33 percent, which is his career average and is slightly above league average. He has allowed just one passed ball this season, but his pitchers have been charged with 39 wild pitches, by far the most of his career.
The Orioles offered Wieters a one-year, qualifying offer of $15.8 million last year and the catcher accepted it – a move that made sense since he needed to show he could catch for a full season again. It’s possible the Orioles could make a similar offer at the end of this season.
The Orioles’ catching situation becomes more complicated with Wieters’ back-up, Caleb Joseph, struggling at the plate and minor leaguer Chance Sisco likely not ready defensively yet.
Boras also represents closer Zach Britton and pending free agent designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, and it’s likely those players will also be discussed next week in a meeting with Duquette. But it appears Wieters and his future as an Oriole will be the primary topic.