The Orioles took divergent — but unsurprising — paths in dealing with their two most coveted free agents Monday, making a $17.2 million qualifying offer to right fielder Mark Trumbo but not to long-time catcher Matt Wieters, according to sources.
Trumbo will now have until Nov. 14 to decide whether to accept the one-year offer or test free agency. Since the 30-year-old has never been a free agent before and is coming off his best season, one in which he led the majors in homers, it would be a major surprise if he didn’t reject the offer. That would then allow the Orioles to receive a supplemental 2017 draft pick if Trumbo signs elsewhere this offseason.
This is the second consecutive year in which the club had to make the qualifying-offer decision with Wieters, one of the most-respected and longest-tenured Orioles. Last year, they made the offer and Wieters, who was still rebounding from elbow surgery, decided to take it.
This year, he’s a free agent again. And because he was healthy most of the season, he’s in a better spot to test free agency, meaning the 30-year-old was less likely to accept the qualifying offer this year. However, the Orioles decided not to take the chance – and won’t dedicate another $17 million to a payroll that already has significant commitments set for 2017.
Wieters, who is widely considered the top free-agent catcher available, will be able to sign with another team without that club losing a pick. The flip side is that the Orioles will receive no compensation if Wieters signs elsewhere.
The qualifying-offer decisions do not prohibit the Orioles from re-signing Wieters and/or Trumbo. Both have said they would like to return to Baltimore, but both are set to receive multi-year deals – and the Orioles may not decide to expend further resources on the duo knowing that team payroll is expected to be around $150 million in 2017 due to several expensive arbitration awards.
Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez, 29, and Nolan Reimold, 33, also did not receive qualifying offers.