Looks like catcher Matt Wieters will get a multi-year deal after all – and will stay in the area, a source confirmed this morning.
He just won’t be in an Orioles uniform for the first time since making his big-league debut in May 2009.
According to various reports, including FanRag Sports and Fox Sports and confirmed by BaltimoreBaseball.com, Wieters has agreed to a deal with the Washington Nationals that will pay him $21 million for the next two years. He’ll receive $10 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018 if he decides to return to Washington.
There is an opt-out included after this season, which would allow the 30-year-old, four-time All Star to re-enter the free agent market again next year if he desires.
It certainly wasn’t a fun place this offseason for Wieters, who made $15.8 million in 2016, when he accepted the Orioles’ qualifying offer. The Orioles didn’t make the qualifying offer this winter – allowing Wieters, their fifth overall pick in 2007, to become a free agent.
Although the team initially said it wanted Wieters to return, there never was much of an effort made toward that end, especially once the Orioles agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal (with a $7 million player option for 2018) with catcher Welington Castillo.
The Orioles and executive vice president Dan Duquette decided that Castillo, who is younger and ultimately cheaper, could provide more offense than Wieters and be sufficient behind the plate.
There was a sense that maybe Wieters could return at a highly reduced rate once February began, but that rate never fully came down. And, despite the wait, Wieters’ agent Scott Boras secured a multi-year deal worth seven figures each season from a Nationals club that often has signed Boras’ clients in its rise to prominence.
Once considered baseball’s next superstar catcher, Wieters had his season cut short in 2014 due to Tommy John elbow surgery and did not fully rebound offensively. He missed a chunk of 2015 and then hit .243 with 17 homers in 2016. His arm bounced back, and he threw out 35 percent of would-be basestealers last year, slightly better than his career average.
But he received poor marks for pitch framing, which has become a key advanced stat within baseball circles, and perhaps cost him money on the free-agent market.