Should The Orioles Try To Lock Up Wieters Now?

Last weekend the Twins shook up the baseball world by signing catcher Joe Mauer, their franchise player, to an eight year contract worth $184MM. It's the fourth richest contract in baseball history and by far the biggest for a backstop. After seeing what it took to sign Mauer a year before he hit the open market, would it behoove the Orioles to approach Matt Wieters, their franchise catcher, about a long-term deal now?

The 23-year-old Wieters reached the big leagues last year with similar hype to what surrounded Mauer when he first arrived in the show. Although his overall batting line of .288/.340/.412 in 385 plate appearances was solid yet unspectacular, he finished the season strong by hitting .331/.389/.479 in his final 157 plate appearances. The expectation is that Wieters will develop into a switch hitting version of the Twins' catcher, though it's unrealistic and unfair to expect anyone to match what Mauer's done in his career to date. 

Because he wasn't called up until the end of May, Wieters won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. Even though he was a high profile draft pick in 2007, he did not sign a Major League contract, instead opting for a $6MM bonus up front. Ryan Braun (eight years, $45MM) and Evan Longoria (six years, $17.5MM plus two options) are the only two position players in recent memory to sign a long-term deal with less than one year of service time, and they both play a less demanding position than Wieters.

My gut says the Orioles should take advantage of their right to pay Wieters close to the league minimum for the next two years before attempting to sign him long-term, but what do I know? Do you think the O's should try to sign Wieters long-term now, or is it too soon and too risky given the demands of the catching position? What kind of contract would be appropriate, something along the lines of what Braun and Longoria got, or a little less?

Remember, the Orioles are by no means a small market club; they offered Mark Teixeira (a Georgia Tech product like Wieters) a nine-figure deal last offseason and certainly appear willing to add payroll for the right players. Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts are already under contract for the long haul, and Baltimore also has Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, and Nolan Reimold under team control for the next several years. 


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24 Comments on "Should The Orioles Try To Lock Up Wieters Now?"


sektorfire
5 years 5 months ago

I say take advantage of the next year or two at his low salary and see what he does. If he performs well, then lock him up and bypass the arbitration years.

switchhitingjesus
5 years 5 months ago

I think he should get a Ryan Braun type of contract.

5 years 5 months ago

Sign him to a long-term deal now….He is going to be nasty. Great patience and a look of determination on him at all times. He’s going to be the real deal

CasanovaWong
5 years 5 months ago

Oooh a look of determination. That’s worth a couple million right there.

bucco_nation
5 years 5 months ago

hahahaha

myname_989
5 years 5 months ago

Yes. Period.

bobbybaseball
5 years 5 months ago

Wieters is going to be terrific but no comp to Mauer. In fact, there really are no comparisons like that. Still, if they can lock him up, fine, but at their terms. No need to overreact to a once-in-a-lifetime type of catcher like Mauer.

myname_989
5 years 5 months ago

Nobody is going to be Mauer, but Wieters is still going to be one of the best catchers in baseball. I think the Orioles and the baseball world in general understands that. Lock him up! Haha

bobbybaseball
5 years 5 months ago

OK but let him have one good season before proclaiming him the Second Coming, lol.

Ferrariman
5 years 5 months ago

to bad his agent is the devil.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

I think they should lock him up now. Why try and save money now when you can save money in a few years when the Orioles will presumably be competitive and looking to spend money to add a couple pieces?

Ethanator99
5 years 5 months ago

I don’t know if there is any saving money when dealing with Boras. There are just different levels of how you’re getting screwed.

dallasmelendez
5 years 5 months ago

Give him a year, and go Evan Longoria on him

goodasgoldyesmaam
5 years 5 months ago

No, do not sign him. Trade him to the Rangers NOW!

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

I’d love to see them lock him up long term, I’m really looking forward to seeing him progress.
I’d give him something around what Braun got; 8yrs $42-48MM.

peterherman
5 years 5 months ago

They can try, but it would be very un-Boras for him to give up any free agent years. Unless he gets a different agent, the best they can realistically hope for is to buy out his arbitration time with a degree of certainty and stability.

bobbybaseball
5 years 5 months ago

Yeah, no way Boras would be stupid enough to have his client sign a team-friendly deal like the Longoria contract.

JackPackage
5 years 5 months ago

Of course they should try to lock him up, if he has a career ending injury its a massive set back for the Orioles anyway regardless of wether hes signed long term. Simply put the benefits far outweigh any possible negatives.
They should also lock Adam Jones up and that is a more pressing concern given their service time differences.

I doubt any young star is ever going to sign for something as team friendly as the Longoria deal again but something similar to what Ryan Braun got would be what they’d be looking at.

Wether they can actually get him to sign something is another question.

Guest
5 years 5 months ago

6 years/$26.8M?
McCann’s deal when he was in a similar situation (except he had done better in the Majors than Wieters)

Mario333
5 years 5 months ago

This discussion is pointless because I don’t think any pre-arbitration Boras client has ever agreed to a multi-year deal. It would make sense if Boras weren’t involved because look at all the money other teams have saved by locking up guys early (Rays with Longoria, Rockies with Tulowitzki, Brewers with Braun, Padres with Adrian Gonzalez etc…)

basemonkey
5 years 5 months ago

This kind of makes no sense. Last year he didn’t start the year in the majors to prevent a Super Two situation. Why would the Os go and do that, then sign him to a longterm deal? It’s kind of the opposite gesture, isn’t it? You hold back your top prospects so that that call-up year doesn’t count toward their service time clock.

To sign a player to a longterm deal essentially cancels out the 3 yr arb clock, since no player will sign a longterm deal that essentially garuantees a long string of league minimum years to make it cost effective to do so. There might be a mathematic logic to this, but why would the team or the player go for this?

basemonkey
5 years 5 months ago

Keep in mind that Wieters has not yet had a single full season in the majors yet.

Secondly, if you look at history, even spectacular catchers typically don’t post spectacular rookie seasons. Piazza is a the exception, but look at Bench, Berra, Posada, Ivan, Campanella. If you take that into account, Wieters rates favorably among that group. We get dazzled by gaudy numbers by Mauer but even he didn’t get the power going until just recently. A .340/.412/.753 line in your rookie season says quality.

aap212
5 years 5 months ago

Say what you want about Boras, but he’s too smart to Longoria his client.

And yes, when a young superstar gives away his 20s for a handful of magic beans, his name becomes a verb.

bobbybaseball
5 years 5 months ago

No, I’ve actually seen him with horns…