Lots of news involving the Orioles' catching corps, but no movement in Wieters' situation - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Lots of news involving the Orioles’ catching corps, but no movement in Wieters’ situation

When the Orioles announced Friday that they had designated catcher Francisco Pena for assignment to make room for pitcher Gabriel Ynoa, immediately the questions came pouring in on Twitter and to the web site.

The same thing happened earlier this week when it became public that new Orioles catcher Welington Castillo was going to play for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, meaning he’d miss a crucial chunk of spring training, which was supposed to be spent learning the Orioles’ pitchers.

Throw in an ankle injury to minor leaguer Austin Wynns that will prohibit him from catching next week, and suddenly there’s a little mystery surrounding the Orioles’ catching cadre.

And some of you detectives out there are making the jump that all this means the club must be heading toward a deal with former catcher Matt Wieters, who is still without a job on Feb. 11.

It’s not a jump. It’s a Bob Beamon-esque leap.

I checked with several sources, and here’s the deal: There has been no recent momentum built between the Orioles and Wieters about a contract. It’s status quo.

Wieters would still like to return to the Orioles, but he and his agent, Scott Boras, are still searching for the best financial and team fit.

Certain members of the Orioles’ staff would love to have Wieters back for the right price, believing he is a better defensive catcher than Castillo and is an invaluable leader within the clubhouse. But others aren’t convinced that spending money on Wieters makes sense given there are other holes (rotation depth, defensive outfield upgrade) that need to be filled more immediately.

No one is officially ruling out the possibility of a return, but it still seems highly unlikely. That hasn’t changed recently.


Now, if majority owner Peter Angelos took a more active role in bringing back Wieters the way he did last year with Chris Davis, a new deal could be struck in a flash. But the Wieters’ situation is in the hands of executive vice president Dan Duquette, as it has been all offseason. And Duquette seems content with Castillo being the primary starter, despite uncertainty surrounding how he’ll mesh with the Orioles’ pitching staff. Castillo’s defensive game has lagged behind his offense during his career. and there’s no evidence that will change in 2017.

I’ve also been told that designating Pena for assignment has nothing to do with a potential open spot for Wieters. First, the Orioles aren’t convinced that Pena will be claimed on waivers. He’s 27, is out of options and a career .239 hitter in the minors. And he has never been outrighted before, so if he does clear, he’d have to stay with the organization. Therefore, there is a possibility he is back with the Orioles in the next few days.

In the meantime — or if Pena is claimed — the Orioles likely will just dip into their current system to find another catcher to help with spring training duties. The most likely candidate is Stuart Levy, who split time at Aberdeen and Delmarva last year.

If something happened to Castillo or backup Caleb Joseph before the season starts, the Orioles believe Audry Perez can play at the major-league level if top prospect Chance Sisco isn’t quite ready.

Yes, it still seems like it would be best for all involved if Wieters signed a one-year deal with the Orioles. He could spend another season hitting at Camden Yards while playing for a 2018 contract. He also could continue to tutor the Orioles’ younger pitchers, specifically Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, in what is a key season for both right-handers.

Wieters makes the Orioles a better team, and he’d get one more crack at playoff run with his original club instead of joining a struggling one like the Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox or Tampa Bay Rays. And most Orioles’ fans would be happy if he returned; Wieters has been one of the more popular Orioles during the franchise’s resurgence.

The bottom line is that this will come down to the combination of the best financial deal and the best roster fit for Wieters and the team with which he eventually signs.

It’s not going to be accelerated by a World Baseball Classic commitment or the cutting of a third-string catcher.



  1. Eldersburg Enigma

    February 11, 2017 at 8:26 am

    One year, $9.5 million plus incentives. Get it done. Bring in Pagan for 1 year, $4 million. Time to go for it!

  2. mlbbirdfan

    February 11, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Dan, do you have any information from a reliable source, or any guess, how high the Orioles would go, to buy Matt for one year? (Scott Boras is not a reliable source, lol)

    I’d be comfortable offering him $5 million for one year. I doubt if he would accept that figure.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 11, 2017 at 10:54 am

      I don’t. He made $16 million last year so I think $5m — which is less than Castillo — would be a huge drop. Can’t see that happening at all.

      • Hallbe62

        February 12, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        But he certainly didn’t earn that 16 mil he was paid last year. The way I see it, he fleeced the O’s last year so a 1 yr deal at 5-6 mil would be more then fair. Does anyone know what he & Boros are seeking in the way of contract ?

      • bigdaddydk

        February 17, 2017 at 6:20 am

        Would he be willing to sit out a year if he’s not offered a multi-year, $10-12 million per year contract? That wouldn’t do much for him next off season, and I would think would be even more damaging to him than another sub-par offensive season. Any thoughts he might head to Korea or Japan to play, like Chris Carter was considering?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 14, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      Most agents don’t leak those numbers with negotiations ongoing.

  3. 4Bees

    February 11, 2017 at 11:51 am

    What I don’t understand is why the Classic preempts pivotal roles like the one Castillo should be embracing. Given the O’s challenges in this area, isn’t it the O’s option to hold him to the annual contract period he signed for, with all of the responsibilities that go with it? Or are MLB contracts only about the regular season and post season?

    • Amazing

      February 11, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      The is all very distant to me, so it is very hard for me to get excited about it. But, if you were to put yourself right dead smack in the middle of it in a place such as Tokyo, or Jalisco, I bet it would be pretty exciting. Man, what a road trip!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      It’s a tough position for the teams. Do they really want to deny a player the chance to play for his country? They can suggest, but to demand may be too much. Though I suppose it is within their rights to strongly suggest.

  4. Wade Warren

    February 11, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    i think that Wellington deciding this stupid wbc is more important than working with Orioles pitchers is a sign how he feels about the Orioles. it is time to bring back Wieters

    • Dan Connolly

      February 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      You want Wieters back, Wade? Just kidding.

  5. Dave M

    February 11, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Does anyone know whether or not the players get paid for participating in the the WBC? Does anyone know why there is such a foolish thing as a wbc? Does anyone know why it is noy played beginning the week after the World Series? Plenty of warm baseball climates throughout the world.
    Was Weiters ever that good offensively to attract last year’s salary?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 14, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      He won’t get $16M per year. That seems evident.

  6. Dave M

    February 11, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    In the previous post substitute “not” for “noy”.

  7. Amazing

    February 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    a signing like that would be strictly a matter of the heart. I’m really not sure that it would be a good baseball decision but, I love Matt Wieters and he seemed to author a lot of very big hits last year.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 12, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Simply a matter of heart? I disagree. Matt is one of the top catchers in the game. Bring him back.

      You’re right about one thing .. “authoring” big hits, but it wasn’t ONLY last year. The boy has had the clutch gene ever since he showed up.

    • justmestac

      February 13, 2017 at 11:58 am

      I agree with Boog. 🙂

  8. Delsym

    February 14, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I would like to see us offer a midrange, incentive laden, multi year deal that would allow him to retire as an Oriole, I don’t believe we’ve had a better receiver, at least as long as I have been following and that’s some 45 years now. No, he’s not a Hall of Famer, but is solid and a grinder. Perhaps we can find other options for him, we have DH, right field, never an issue with defense so can move him late and put him behind the plate for a speedster on the bases. And in right field in the latter innings, give him rest wrt knees and he’ll be more productive, but get him there to work with our pitchers NOW. I still remember BJ and Adam would accept him in limited innings, he can certainly hit clutch better than Markakis did and has an arm, or did before TJ surgery. He’s smart and motivated…?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      I don’t think outfield would work for him. Very plodding. Plus, he hasn’t done it in his career. And he’ll be 31. He’s a catcher. For better or worse.

      • bigdaddydk

        February 17, 2017 at 6:27 am

        According to Scott Boras, he’s the second coming of Carlton Fisk. Well, minus 30 points on the batting average. 44 points in OBP, 56 points in SLG, 110 points in OPS, and 33 points in OPS+ at the same point in their respective careers. But, he told Jonah Keri that Wieters is on the same projection as Fisk, so apparently he’s supposed to get paid big bucks because Boras says so. Seems to me that Boras has really overestimated the value of Matt Wieters on the open market.

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