Extension Candidate: Matt Wieters

Catchers often take a few years to adjust to big league life after being called up from the minors, in part because they have to learn a pitching staff in addition to focusing on their own development. The Buster Posey-types who have an immediate impact are few and far between. Matt Wieters was the best prospect in all of baseball before the 2009 season according to Baseball America, but it wasn't until 2011 that he started to put it all together.

Icon_13072813Wieters, 25, hit .262/.328/.450 with 22 homers for the Orioles last season and was named to his first All-Star Game. A switch-hitter, Wieters was Barry Bonds from the right side (.339/.430/.694) and Neifi Perez from the left (.235/.291/.371). His career splits are much less pronounced, however. Wieters won the Gold Glove Award for his work behind the plate, and also won the Fielding Bible Award at the position for those of you who prefer a more analytical approach to defense. His career may have started slowly, but now Wieters is starting to break out.

Quality catching is hard to find, which is why teams are eager to lock up their young backstops these days. Nick Hundley (three years, $9MM) and Salvador Perez (five years, $7MM) traded their arbitration-eligible years for guaranteed payouts this offseason while Yadier Molina set the market for free agent backstops with his five-year, $75MM contract. A Molina-like payday may be unavoidable for the Orioles and Wieters down the road, but the club certainly has reasons to look into buying out his arbitration years as well some potential free agent years with an extension.

Molina ($9.25MM), Kurt Suzuki ($14.85MM), Brian McCann ($15.5MM), and Joe Mauer ($20.5MM) all signed away their three arbitration years for similar amounts as part of a multi-year extension. The free agent years surrendered as part of those four extensions range in value from $5.25MM (Molina) to $12.5MM (Mauer). Miguel Montero did not sign an extension but will earn $11.1MM during his three arbitration years. Using those five backstops as a blueprint, a five-year contract worth $22-25MM could make sense for both the O's and Wieters. It would cover his final pre-arbitration year (2012), all three arbitration years ($13-15MM total), and one free agent year ($9-10MM). Options for additional free agent years are, as they say, optional.

It's worth noting that Wieters is a Scott Boras client, but the superagent has been willing to let clients like Jered Weaver, Carlos Gonzalez, Stephen Drew, and Elvis Andrus sign long-term extensions in recent years. Baltimore hired new GM Dan Duquette back in November and they're just starting to pick up the pieces of a franchise that's finished in the AL East cellar in each of the last four years. Wieters could be part of the next contending Orioles team, and the club might want to gain some cost certainty before he continues his breakout and gets even more expensive.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

14 Responses to Extension Candidate: Matt Wieters Leave a Reply

  1. Rabbitov 3 years ago

    Lock him up, we do not want another Mussina incident on our hands. 

    • mstrchef13 3 years ago

      Mussina left because he was pissed that the O’s traded Surhoff. No amount of money would have kept him.

      • Rabbitov 3 years ago

        There were a lot of considerations.  A big one was that the organization never showed that it cared about and appreciated Mussina.  A huge basis for that was that he gave the Orioles multiple opportunities to try to extend him and the O’s reacted by sitting on their thumbs. 

        A similar, but less cataclysmic situation occurred with BJ Ryan.  

    • MB923 3 years ago

      I would like to see him locked up. It’s about time we see the “small market” teams lock up some of their young stars. Nats did it with Zimmermann, Rockies with Tulo, M’s did it with Felix a couple of years ago, Pirates with McCutchen, Rays with Longoria, etc.

      I really hope the Orioles do keep him.

      • Baltimore isnt a small market, it really is a myth. Before decade long melt down. Baltimore had all of Maryland, DC, downstate Del, Virginia, W. Virginia, large section of North Carolina, and central PA. Balt/DC metro area is huge and it always was the O’s area, they ran 2 bad Senators teams out of town, while not as big as New York, its comparable to Boston and Philadelphia for a market. Most of the so called small market are small markets because they suck, and only the die hards still care. 

        • MB923 3 years ago

          That’s why I did put the small market in quotation markets. Technically I know it’s not a small market, but many people feel low payroll teams (Baltimore for instance) are automatically small market and don’t hvae money. Peter Angelos actually has a lot of money though. (No he doesn’t have NY, LA, Boston, Philly type money).

          All in all, it would still be good for them to lock him up.

        •  I think he what he was saying was teams that don’t spend big always. Bascially any team other then NY, Bos, philly, La, … but i agree

  2. Wow, nice Neifi Perez reference. I kinda forgot about him.

    The O’s would be crazy not to give Wieters an extension, he needs to be the heart of that team for them to be competitive.

  3. mstrchef13 3 years ago

    Do it! Do it NOW!

    And sign Adam Jones while you’re at it.

  4. Lunchbox45 3 years ago

    He should probably see about trying to hit RHP while batting right. 

    he’s amazing though, premier talent. lock up, build around him

  5. Catchers (good ones, anyways) don’t grow on trees. The O’s can afford more than the average fan is led to believe. No, they aren’t in the Boston-New York-Anaheim-Texas category, but it’s not Pittsburgh, either. If they aren’t going to pursue big name free agents, at least commit to the Wieters/Adam Jones types and build a strong team from within. 1996 was a long time ago….time to start winning again!

  6. MetsMagic 3 years ago

    O’s have to lock Wieters up now, because he could break out in a huge way in 2012 and if they have any desire to be a respectable franchise in the near future. Even if he never improves, he’d be worth it.

    His 2011 season was the best by a catcher in the AL, and he’s just scratching the surface. Look how slow Jorge Posada’s bat was to develop in the majors, catchers are now for that. To me, Matt’s what Eddie Murray would be if he could play backstop like Jim Sundberg. 

  7. deere5800 3 years ago

     He was lights out in his first year in Toronto. Then injuries hit him and that’s what caused his downfall.

  8. Rabbitov 3 years ago

    I disagree with that even more.  I don’t think anyone foresaw the injury that came to BJ Ryan, who was coming off of back to back spectacular seasons.  This is why the Blue Jays gave him such a big contract (the biggest in major league history at the time for a reliever). 
    Meanwhile, BJ vocally would have extended with us before his last year of contract for a lot less than he got with the Blue Jays.  After we gave him a season of closing and he was lights out, his value was way too high and we lost out in free agency.  

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