Here’s Rich Dubroff, Orioles insider for CSNBaltimore.com:
“I don’t know the timing of it,” Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette said at last month’s Fan Fest. “The good news is that Matt’s signed for this year. He had a great year. He’s continuing to improve as an RBI man. His leadership and defense are big plusses for the team. We’re looking forward to having him do that, and hopefully have him beyond the three years we have him on the team.”
The betting is that the Orioles and Wieters will wait until after this season and address the issue with a lucrative, long-term deal with two years to go before free agency. Another successful season for Wieters and the Orioles will only make that deal more lucrative.
Wieters was eligible for salary arbitration this winter for the first time and landed a $5.5 million salary for 2013.
The 26-year-old catcher batted .249/.329/.435 with 23 home runs, 27 doubles and 83 RBI in 144 games last season for the American League Wild Card-winning O’s while earning Gold Glove honors for his exceptional defense behind the plate. He is currently under team control through the 2015 campaign.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.