Player agent Scott Boras said that he has talked to multiple teams this week about free agent Matt Wieters, but that, in his experience, the market for catchers typically doesn’t come to fruition until later in the offseason.
“We’ve been meeting with clubs about him and have been going through the process, scheduling things with him and then having meetings and such. It’s going fine,” Boras said about Wieters. “The clubs that need catching are pretty well defined. And some are thinking about moving players to make room for him. So, the timetable always on catching. … I can’t think of one I’ve represented that didn’t sign in January. But they do.”
The 30-year-old Wieters, who has spent the duration of his seven-year career with the Orioles, will not resume baseball activities until January after lacerating his left arm in a home accident earlier this offseason.
It’s not expected to affect his 2017 season, but where he ends up playing may not be determined for a while. Boras says he believes Baltimore is still an option – and the Orioles’ brass has not ruled out a reunion with their four-time All Star.
“Matt has always enjoyed playing in Baltimore, so it certainly is a possibility, yeah,” Boras said.
Yet the club isn’t necessarily waiting around for Wieters. Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed Wednesday that catchers Nick Hundley and Welington Castillo continue to be in the mix as the Orioles look for a veteran backstop to share time with Caleb Joseph.
A few catchers have already signed deals this winter, including Jason Castro, who inked a three-year, $24.5 million pact with the Minnesota Twins, and Wilson Ramos, who agreed to a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Because of Castro’s offensive limitations and Ramos’ right knee injury that required surgery, Wieters was widely considered the best all-around catcher when the free-agent market began.
This month, however, Arizona decided not to tender a contract to Castillo and the San Diego Padres dealt Derek Norris to the Washington Nationals.
At first blush, the market for catchers seems to be drying up some, and that could leave Wieters in an unexpected situation.
According to one industry source, the Atlanta Braves, long thought to be a potential suitor for the South Carolina native, have some concerns about Wieters’ defensive game. Although he threw out 35 percent of would-be basestealers this season – slightly above his career average of 33 percent, Wieters is considered a below-average framer of pitches, according to advanced metrics.
But Boras isn’t concerned about getting a good deal for his client. He just reiterated Wednesday how valuable Wieters has been over the years in Baltimore.
“Look, he threw out over 35 percent of his runners. When Matt Wieters is behind the plate, the Orioles are in the playoffs,” Boras said. “He’s won Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers there. And his ERA of the pitching staff is one run lower than when other catchers catch, so I think Baltimore has a real commodity there. He has performed at high levels there.”
In news involving other Boras’ clients that are (or were) with the Orioles, the agent said that he has had several discussions with teams about designated hitter Pedro Alvarez.
Boras said Alvarez, who has struggled defensively at first base and third base in his career, is also working out in the outfield.
“I’ve talked to a number of teams about him. Pedro’s actually going to start playing the outfield as well, and he’s obviously working at first base,” Boras said. “We’re going to try to get his defensive acumen more in the field as his career goes forward. Obviously, anybody who needs left-handed power is going to be interested in Pedro.”
Boras added that he and the Orioles have not had any contract-extension talks about closer Zach Britton, but that could change in January when the sides begin negotiations during the arbitration process.