Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was considered one of the top prospects in baseball when he was called up to the majors in May of 2009. He failed to live up to the high expectations of O’s fans, batting a pedestrian .288/.340/.412 with nine home runs and 43 RBI in his first 96 games. Many baseball people were optimistic that he would turn the corner this season, but he hasn’t. At least not yet.
Through 53 games this season, Wieters is hitting just .246/.316/.346 with four homers and 17 RBI. Normally fans and management can live with a few unimpressive developmental years. After all, baseball is a tough game. But we now live in a results-oriented world populated by guys like Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Leake and Buster Posey. We like our youngsters to flash greatness right away, and Wieters has largely been a disappointment thus far.
Yankees veteran catcher Jorge Posada knows all about the pressure that Wieters is facing, and chatted Thursday with MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli about the 24-year-old backstop.
are back there behind the plate, obviously your number one priority is
the pitcher, the defense, and [Wieters is] doing a hell of a job,” said Posada. “I
think he needs to understand that. … The sky’s the limit. He’s
going to be a good player. He looks strong, he looks good. And he’s
going to be there for a while.”
Orioles fans can only hope so. The club currently owns a 16-43 record and is 23 games out of first place.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.