If the 'lost' Wieters' market is down, it's time to bring him home again - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

If the ‘lost’ Wieters’ market is down, it’s time to bring him home again

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

When talking to Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette earlier this week, he said something that really struck me.

It wasn’t the sentiment conveyed, but the wording he used that that made me pause.

Here was the exact quote:

“We lost Matt Wieters, who had been a big part of our operation for a while. But we’ve been able to sign Welington Castillo, who I think is going to do a pretty good job at catcher for us. He shows good power. He’s shown good defensive capability, especially throwing, so I think we’re gonna be strong there.”

This isn’t about Castillo, who was a pretty solid acquisition, I think.

It’s the “we lost Matt Wieters” part that I’m hung up on.

Because, frankly, to lose something, means there’s no obvious way to get it back. Wieters, at last check, is still a free agent and could return to Baltimore if both sides so desired. He has always maintained an interest in remaining with his original club. But my sense is there’s always been a split within the organization regarding Wieters’ potential return.

Given how Duquette phrased the wording Tuesday – similar to what he said when Castillo was signed in December — it appears that he has completely moved on from Wieters. And that’s interesting because Duquette rarely shuts doors.

Yet, from the beginning, it was clear he wasn’t waiting around for Wieters. Instead of biding time until the perceived asking price came down – the way Duquette did this offseason with Mark Trumbo and last winter with Chris Davis – the GM signed Castillo in mid-December to a one-year, $6 million deal with a $7 million player option for 2018.

At first, what that action said to me is that Duquette thought Castillo was a better buy – less money for a younger catcher who might be a better offensive player right now.

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But now I think what Duquette was saying with that move is that he believes Castillo is a better all-around catcher period – no matter the cost. Because, theoretically, if this were just about the perceived high price tag on Wieters, the Orioles would be back in the market for him now that it likely has dropped. Castillo’s not playing 162 games, after all.

Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, has made a career of finding the best financial packages for his clients, and just when you think he has waited himself into a corner, Boras often emerges with the deal that he envisioned all along. Contrary to public opinion, Boras keeps his negotiations close to the vest – and then often springs a big deal with a club no one was expecting.

And maybe that happens again here. There is precedent. But there just doesn’t seem like a lot of obvious landing places remaining for Wieters. I refuse to count out the Washington Nationals, even though it has been reported multiple times that they’re no longer looking for a catcher. Boras’ clients have a way of finding themselves with a big paycheck in the nation’s capital.

You also can’t count out the Los Angeles Angels, who could use a good veteran catcher and, incidentally, are the hometown team of the Boras Corporation. Although Anaheim is roughly 3,000 miles from Goose Creek, South Carolina and from Atlanta, Wieters’ former home and his current one.

The Nationals are a contender with an excellent pitching staff and their expected starter, Derek Norris, is not close to the defensive backstop that Wieters is.

Without question, Wieters would be the Angels starter, but does he really want to go to a team that doesn’t appear to be close to contention for several years?

Again, I never say never with Boras, but it’s hard to imagine Wieters will command anything near the three-year, $24.5 million deal that the Minnesota Twins gave pitch-framing darling Jason Castro.

I’m not sure I could find many scouts that would choose the 29-year-old Castro (a career .232 big-league hitter with 62 homers and a 26 percent caught-stealing rate) over the 30-year-old Wieters (a career .256 hitter with 117 homers and a 33 percent caught-stealing rate) when it comes to the whole package. But Castro hit the jackpot early this offseason and Wieters, who is considered below average at pitch-framing, is still looking.

The thought now is that Wieters may have to re-establish himself as one of baseball’s best all-around catchers and hit the market again next year. So, he might be looking for a one-year, pillow deal.

And where do offensive players often end up when a one-year agreement is the best option? Camden Yards, of course.

In a sense, Baltimore suddenly becomes the perfect fit for Wieters in that one-year scenario. Their competitive clock is ticking, and their hope is they don’t need a long-term catcher.

Wieters, a switch-hitter, and Castillo, a right-handed hitter, could rotate at catcher and DH some, keeping both fresh and making Buck Showalter’s bench stronger. It would push Caleb Joseph to the minors, and though that would be unfortunate for Joseph, it wouldn’t be a terrible thing for the organization.

Joseph, an incredibly unselfish player, would be able to work alongside Chance Sisco, the club’s top prospect who needs to improve his defense before getting the call to the majors. It certainly would help Sisco to have a guy like Joseph there for guidance. And, if something were to happen to Castillo or Wieters, then Joseph would be a tremendous insurance policy.

Plus, I sort of think the Wieters’ situation will evolve into Nick Markakis 2.0. Not many realized the kind of impact on and off the field that Markakis had until he left after 2014. The Orioles are still looking for a right fielder and someone to get on base at or toward the top of the order.

I think the same may end up being true about Wieters’ departure. Because of the lofty expectations placed on him when he first signed, he’s often viewed as a disappointment. And, yes, there are flaws in his game. But he’s exceptionally steady, is a good influence on the pitching staff and always seemed to deliver a big hit when needed.

Castillo reportedly has a great work ethic and is a good clubhouse presence as well. But how he meshes with the staff won’t be known until there is no going back. Therefore, adding the Baltimore-tested Wieters on a one-year deal seems like it would make the Orioles better in 2017 and wouldn’t block Sisco, which was one of the reasons Wieters was expendable initially.

The Wieters Dynamic seemingly has changed in the last few months. But reading into Duquette’s comments this week, his mindset hasn’t.

When Castillo was signed, Wieters was lost. Duquette says he’s still lost.

But, if the terms he is seeking have dipped, I say it’s time to find Wieters and bring him home again.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. OsFanStuckInNY

    January 27, 2017 at 7:33 am

    With salaries continuing to spiral upward, people like Trumbo & Wieters are among the players who are finally starting to see owners exhibit a small measure of self control with the purse strings. Even so, the money is staggering. I know, I know, MLB is raking in lots of cash — and we’re the ones paying it, ultimately, not only in tickets prices, concessions, and merchandising, but every time we buy products at the higher prices the sponsors charge to cover their advertising costs.

    After all, you can’t overspend on a guy who might pitch 75 innings late in games unless you cut corners somewhere, right?

    The upcoming Machado and Harper contracts will be interesting. Will the owners learn from the A-rod boondoggle. Nah. It’s not the American Way.

    I’m intrigued with the idea of a Castillo/Wieters combo with Joseph at AAA, as you’ve suggested, but sooner or later O’s need to spend big on their stars. With what $?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 9:04 am

      With what money is an excellent question. Every team has a budget. The Orioles never reveal theirs. It’s usually a case-by-case basis for making purchases. But Machado, for instance would be a major purchase. A one-year deal like I suggest won’t shouldn’t play into that tho.

      • marcshank

        February 3, 2017 at 12:07 am

        I really don’t understand Duquette’s intransigence about Matt. The one year deal seems ideal if he’s serious about playing with a contender – and this is really the year when magic could happen, especially if the pitching staff “ifs” come through. But there’s always good old Angelos in the mix, the man who could have a few world series in his pocket if he let the GM’s be GM’s. What if Weiters put up 2014 numbers and takes over from Castillo? What about the security of knowing two good catchers means nobody ever gets too tired behind the plate?

        Why won’t Duquette think like you, Dan, and bring the guy back? The fans give him a lot of love and, by the way, it looks like the arm is healed by the effortless way he threw out runners last year. C’mon Dan, give him a roll.

    • Delsym

      January 28, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Like the moniker, as was I; now, I’m back in ME; but always O’s big fan here! I we need Matt more than we know yet…deja vu …Messina…pitching tanked, leadership in bullpen cannot be taken lightly!!!

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 27, 2017 at 7:39 am

    Now you’re just teasing me Dan.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Sorry, Boog. Don’t want to get your hopes up. Doubt it will happen. But definitely think it should be pursued.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    January 27, 2017 at 8:41 am

    In today’s headlines ESTABLISHED BALTIMORE SPORTSWRITER PENS LOVE LETTER TO READER NAMED BOOG

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Hahaha

    • Steve Cockey

      January 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Another classic, Richie. As always, I applaud your creativity. Well done.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 27, 2017 at 5:15 pm

      I’m going on record right now as voting for the ‘Stache as our Most Valuable Contributor!

  4. Bancells Moustache

    January 27, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Were this to happen, it would be a major coup to the organization. Having both Wiety and Beef in the cupboard makes for a hearty dish indeed. I also like that this gives them additional ammo for the end of July, as this could be one of the more momentous deadlines in recent memory. Unfortunately, and at the risk of breaking our colleague Mr Robinson Robinson’s heart, I don’t see it happening. A player of Wieters stature isn’t going to take a cheap deal for a diminished role, particularly with Boras standing behind the curtain. Someone will give him a multi-year deal, albeit with a sensible number attached.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 9:12 am

      I thought so too about the multi-year deal, but we’re near the end of January and that starts to become one-year territory. And at this point, if the courting team is bad and the money is lessened, a one-year deal makes sense. And try again next year. Plus, I’m not sure it would be a lesser role here if the DH is utilized some as well.

  5. justmestac

    January 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Well you know my opinions on the subject. I dunno if I should thank you or curse you for getting my hopes up. 😉

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Sorry about the hopes and dreams. Not predicting. Just espousing.

    • justmestac

      January 27, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      I appreciate the espousing. I was just doing so the other day myself. It will be interesting to see what they do & where he does ultimately wind up.

  6. Wade Warren

    January 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I said from beginning Wieters and Wellington as catchers for o’s in 2017 I hope it comes true

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 11:01 am

      Would be a great call.

    • Wade Warren

      January 27, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      You need me to bring you to your team. I called the Davis and Trumbo signing I think Bourne and Hunter will sign with O’s too and Wieters also

  7. Steve Cockey

    January 27, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I can’t get on board with this one. As much as I like Matt, I’d spend whatever dollars are left on another OBP outfielder and whatever pitching depth can be secured — starter, pen, or both.

    If Wieters and Castillo were to co-exist, you’d have to think that each would see a decent chunk of time DHing. This pushes Trumbo into RF more regularly, which I don’t like. And does Matt’s bat play at DH anyway?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 11:05 am

      I think it’s hard to say if a C’s bat plays at DH because when behind the plate that’s the primary focus. And the O usually suffers some. But that’s a valid point. As for adding more pieces, I’m advocating a reasonable deal that would allow you to get one or two more affordable pieces. But, yea, it likely would mean a healthy dose of Trumbo in right

    • Steve Cockey

      January 27, 2017 at 11:45 am

      All fair points. It’d somewhat be worth the cost just to see how Buck would juggle the playing time between C/DH/Trumbo in RF/etc. Especially with both Cs playing for their next contracts. He’s the master at this stuff, but it certainly seems like it’d be challenging if everyone stayed healthy.

    • marcshank

      February 3, 2017 at 12:11 am

      I understand you about the Weiters/Castillo situation. And you freaked me out at the thought of Trumbo playing right field. But the other angle is one of them coming off of the bench since we don’t have much of one now. Steve Pierce is gone to a dreaded competitor. And see my post above for the other reasons to go for a one year.

  8. Calvin95

    January 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I agree with your statement Dan, Matt
    did seem to get the big hit when needed.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 27, 2017 at 11:05 am

      I just don’t see how this team is better without him if he is affordable.

    • justmestac

      January 27, 2017 at 1:36 pm

      I agree Dan. I don’t see how they are better without if he is affordable at this point.

  9. Ravefan96

    January 28, 2017 at 8:18 am

    You know Dan I was thinking about the Weiters scenario last week and that would be great. What’s wrong with two capable catchers/DH on the roster. But now with the Brewers in the mix along with the Halos and Nats…….what happened to the Braves ?

    Chris Brockman

    • justmestac

      January 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

      The Braves typically have an aversion to Boras clients from what I’ve seen over the years. They just picked up Kurt Suzuki on a 1 yr deal.

      • Ravefan96

        January 28, 2017 at 9:42 am

        Missed the Suzuki signing and no one seemingly wants to deal with Boras but right now it appears Milwaukee has a strong interest. If that softens, id love to see Matt back.

  10. Delsym

    January 28, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    I really believe that we will not be the same team without Matt Weiters. He is an heart and soul, orange and white mainstay, he’s a gamer and I really believe deserves a chance to contribute to something special. Our young pitchers are close and really the final piece, if folks can stay healthy, we can find a righfielder, Matt could try that too? I think his absence will leave a much bigger hole than his position…I am recalling PTSD following loss of Moose Messina, I don’t think we really ever recovered from that!

  11. Delsym

    January 28, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Mussina, sorry…must be the New Yorker in me!!

  12. PapaGrigg

    January 29, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Dan, I see your point and Matt has given his best in a great effort to the organization. But I believe the conundrum is who to you bump off the 40 man and DFA? You better be careful with that, someone just might claim that player.

    • bigdaddydk

      January 31, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Not only the 40 man and potentially losing a DFA player, but who gets how many innings behind the plate? Both players would, at this point, be more or less on a 1-year deal, with both potentially looking to showcase for FA come November. Neither would be in a position to do that if innings are being split that much. Assume half of the innings go to each, it would be hard next year to get a big multi-year contract without more games played. The idea of platooning them based on how they hit doesn’t really work either as Castillo fared better against RHP than did Wieters, and Wieters’ is stronger from the left side of the plate. Further, what does the team gain from two not-very-good pitch framers on the same roster?

      Wieters doesn’t really bring anything to the team as a DH either. His numbers don’t justify putting him there when they have spent to re-sign Trumbo and traded for Smith. Bringing Wieters back with an expectation that he will get innings behind the plate and also spend time at the DH spot pushes Castillo to the bench and potentially pushes Trumbo into RF, which I cannot get behind. They have two players now who can do DH and RF in Trumbo and Smith, and three who can play 1B and DH in Trumbo, Davis, and Mancini.

      I just don’t see where Wieters can both add value and advance his career by signing with the O’s. I think the idea of Wieters being in black and orange again is more nostalgia than anything.

  13. KevinInAnnapolis

    January 29, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I’ve always thought that a 3/$39 million deal for Wieters would have worked anytime in this offseason. Not sure I agree with Dan D’s take that they “lost” Wieters. To me, Duquette clearly thought the O’s could go cheaper with Castillo and he “passed” on Wieters. Personally, I would like to know Buck’s take on this. My thought is that he would much prefer having Matt on the O’s 2017 roster.

    • Steve Cockey

      January 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      I’d guess the same as you, Kevin: That Buck especially would love to have Wieters back. They’ve always seemed to be close, and I think Buck values the intangibles that Matt brings, besides just his on-field contribution.

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