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Matt Wieters Rumors
The Orioles have announced that Matt Wieters is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow and miss the remainder of the 2014 season. Recovery time for Wieters is estimated at nine months.
The news is a big blow for an Orioles team that hoped to have Wieters back in the middle of its lineup for a potential playoff push. The switch-hitting Wieters was off to the best start of his career in 2014, slashing .308/.339/.500 with five homers and five doubles through the season’s first 26 games (112 plate appearances).
Baltimore has been relying on Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph and the recently acquired Nick Hundley at the catcher position while Wieters has been on the shelf, but none of those players has provided any help on the offensive side of the game. In fact, they’ve combined to bat just .185/.253/.241 in 182 plate appearances. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Baltimore pursue further help on the trade market if none of that trio can turn it around at the dish, though that is speculation on my part.
Wieters projects to return for Opening Day 2015, so catchers on long-term deals might not make sense for Baltimore to pursue. Two potential options could be Minnesota’s Kurt Suzuki and Pittsburgh’s Russell Martin, should either the Twins or Pirates become sellers by next month’s deadline. For the time being, each team is within striking distance of a playoff spot.
Wieters is earning $7.7MM in 2014 as a second-time arbitration eligible player and remains under control through the 2015 campaign. He will be eligible for arbitration for the final time this offseason, meaning this injury will deflate his earning potential for his final year before free agency.
Notable talent evaluators from the Rays and Cubs were recently on hand to watch Blue Jays prospect Daniel Norris throw five scoreless innings in a high-A ball start, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Norris, 21, was a second round draft pick for the Jays in 2011 and was ranked as the franchise’s sixth-best prospect by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook. The southpaw has a 1.22 ERA, 4.22 K/BB rate and 10.3 K/9 in 13 starts this season, and Elliott wonders if Norris or outfielder Dalton Pompey could be targeted by the Rays or Cubs as part of a trade package for David Price or Jeff Samardzija this summer. Both Elliott and two scouts feel the Jays (who are known to be looking for a pitching upgrade) need a power arm to be legitimate postseason contenders.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Also from Elliott, he hears that the Cubs are asking for four players in return for Samardzjia. The Blue Jays had two evaluators present for Samardzija’s start against the Marlins on June 7th.
- The Rays are “looking like the strong favorites” to sign 15-year-old Dominican shortstop Adrian Rondon, Baseball America’s Ben Badler reports, though Rondon cannot sign until he turns 16 on July 7. Rondon, who is 6’2″ and 180 pounds, is expected to sign for around a $3MM bonus. Several scouts consider Rondon to be the best prospect available on the international market, with one scout even telling Badler that Rondon’s upside could make him “a Hanley Ramirez-type of offensive shortstop.”
- Nick Markakis “wants to play here for the rest of his life,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). The O’s have a $17.5MM club option on Markakis for 2015 that will very likely be bought out for $2MM, though Markakis’ strong play this season is putting him in good shape for a new multiyear contract.
- The Orioles expect Dr. James Andrews to recommend that Matt Wieters‘ right elbow will require Tommy John surgery when the catcher is examined later today, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. Losing Wieters would obviously be a major blow to the O’s this season, and it would further complicate any plans they might have to sign Wieters to a contract extension (Wieters is under control through 2015).
- Two-thirds of the Red Sox roster could be trade candidates if the team decides to rebuild for 2015, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Abraham’s list includes several relievers (including Koji Uehara), A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, Stephen Drew, Jake Peavy and Jonny Gomes. While you could make a case for the likes of Jon Lester, Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks or Clay Buchholz to be dealt as well, Abraham feels these players are much longer shots to be traded.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington needs to make a move for a quality outfield bat before the season is lost, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has been plenty busy over the past few days, digging up rumors from all around the league. Here are some highlights from his latest work…
- Two sources tell Rosenthal that Matt Wieters‘ throwing program is going poorly and surgery is looking more likely (Twitter links). A third source, however, cautions that it’s too soon to make that judgment, adding that Wieters has good days and also bad days at this time.
- In this weekend’s Full Count video, he notes that while many were shocked by Max Scherzer‘s decision to turn down $144MM in an attempt to secure more on next year’s free agent market, Scherzer has an insurance policy on his right arm that Scherzer says “takes the injury risk out of it.” While the policy likely doesn’t cover the full amount of that offer, it sounds to be a substantial amount. Rosenthal adds that Jon Lester has a similar policy, though not for nearly as much money as Scherzer’s policy.
- Some friends of Jimmy Rollins feel that he’ll be willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to approve a trade once he passes Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in hits. Others feel he and his wife, a Philadelphia native, prefer to stay no matter what. Of course, Rollins’ $11MM vesting option damages his trade value as well, as he will easily reach the required plate appearances if he stays healthy.
- The Giants are looking to upgrade at second base this summer. While they could use a starting pitcher, they aren’t likely to make an addition that would turn Tim Lincecum into a $17MM bullpen arm. The Athletics, on the other hand, could use a starting pitching upgrade and have the necessary catching depth to make a move.
- The Orioles are willing to move Delmon Young, who is batting .286/.318/.369 and has lost most of his plate appearances to Steve Pearce. While Young isn’t the hitter than Kendrys Morales is, Rosenthal lists him as a low-cost alternative to teams that missed out on Morales; Young is set to earn about $600K over the rest of the season.
With Matt Wieters now on the disabled list with an elbow injury, Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirms that the team is only the lookout for more catching, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. Showalter says, however, that the team is being cautious about pursuing trades. “Obviously, I’m not going to insult your intelligence,” Showalter says. “But it’s not like something you snap your fingers and people are going to bend over and give you what you need.”
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday that the Orioles, who now have Steve Clevenger and Caleb Joseph behind the dish, were looking for a backup catcher. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale also noted that the team could deal pitcher Troy Patton, perhaps for a catcher.
In the meantime, it’s unclear when Wieters will be able to return to the position, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli reports. “Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Wieters says. “We’re just going to go every day, come here ready to work, ready to rehab and when I’m ready I’m ready.”
Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette appeared on Buster Olney’s podcast today and discussed a variety of topics, including Kendrys Morales (Duquette appears around the 27:00 mark). Asked by Olney about the speculation that Morales could help his team, Duquette replied, “We don’t have any plans to add anybody to our ball club right now … Matt Wieters, with the issue he has in with his elbow, is going to take some at-bats in our DH position, so we’re all set. When we signed Nelson Cruz, that pretty much closed the door on that speculation.” Duquette also talked about his team’s strong start to the year in spite of several injuries as well as Manny Machado‘s elite defense. More from that interview and the rest of the AL East below…
- Duquette also fielded questions on the contract status of Wieters and Chris Davis (around the 36:20 mark), noting that the club has twice tried to extend Wieters and once tried to extend Davis as well. “I like Chris and Matt on the ball club, but having said that, we’ve already made that effort, and I’m not really going to be discussing that this year during the season with those players.” Both Wieters and Davis are Scott Boras clients, which makes the task of hammering out a long-term deal a more difficult one, as Boras typically encourages his players to go year-to-year and test the open market.
- Shifting gears from the O’s to the Blue Jays, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets that the main reason behind Juan Francisco choosing to sign in Toronto was a recruiting pitch from Edwin Encarnacion. After Francisco was cut by the Brewers in Spring Training, Encarnacion called his countryman and pitched Toronto, and the result has been a .311/.403/.623 batting line with five homers in 72 PAs for Francisco.
- In a special piece for ESPN New York, Danny Knobler writes that the perception of the Yankees as an “old-school” team is misleading. Knobler spoke with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who called the Yankees “way more [progressive] than people think.” Knobler also points out that the Yankees trail only the Astros in terms of infield shifting this season, a fact that isn’t lost on division rival Joe Maddon. The Rays skipper told Knobler: “They’re exceeding us. It doesn’t surprise me. It disappoints me. I much preferred when they thought we were nuts, that we were bastardizing the game.”
After receiving a scare when Matt Wieters‘ MRI results were sent to Dr. James Andrews for further review, the Orioles received good news today, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (all Twitter links). After reviewing the MRI, Andrews informed the team that Wieters isn’t a candidate for surgery.
The belief, says Connolly’s source, is that the injury could have been preexisting, dating back to Wieters’ time as a pitcher in college, and he may have simply tweaked it recently. Connolly adds that Wieters won’t catch for awhile, but he is expected to be able to DH. Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweets that the concern was over Wieters’ flexor mass, not his ulnar collateral ligament.
MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko speculated this morning that if Wieters were to be relegated to DH duties for awhile, the team would purchase the contract of Caleb Joseph to serve as Steve Clevenger‘s backup. Baltimore has an open 40-man roster spot, which would make that scenario easier for the team. That they won’t be without Wieters’ bat has to come as a huge sigh of relief to an Orioles team that has already seen Chris Davis land on the disabled list after spending the season’s first month without Manny Machado. Wieters is hitting .341/.374/.560 with five homers through his first 23 games.
The Athletics have continued to adapt to changes in the market and the analysis of the game since the much-hyped Moneyball era, writes MLB.com’s Mike Bauman. Getting on base is still a key, says Bauman, but this year’s club is winning with success on the bases and in the field. Manager Bob Melvin explained: “A guy like Josh Reddick, even when he’s not swinging the bat well, can play because he runs the bases well and he plays good defense. There’s value to all different variables, and we do value all of them.”
- Of course, the most recent notable shift has been GM Billy Beane’s heavy investment in the bullpen, which continued with the Athletics‘ recent extension of Sean Doolittle. The club’s relief corps currently has a 2.71 collective ERA (fourth-best in the bigs), and could soon benefit from the return of Eric O’Flaherty. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the former Braves southpaw is nearing a rehab assignment and could be looking at an early June debut in Oakland. O’Flaherty was inked to a back-loaded, two-year, $7MM deal in the offseason.
- The Orioles may be holding their collective breath until tomorrow, when catcher Matt Wieters will pay a visit to Dr. James Andrews to receive an evaluation of his sore elbow, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Though Passan notes the possibility of a UCL tear, Wieters played today in the DH slot and manager Buck Showalter downplayed the seriousness of the issue in comments to reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (links to Twitter). Showalter said that the team simply hopes to learn more about the cause of the soreness, and hopes to have Wieters back behind the dish tomorrow.
- The Indians have struggled to nail down the back of the rotation in the early part of the season. After letting Aaron Harang go and seeing Carlos Carrasco struggle, says Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer, the team will now give Josh Tomlin a chance to seize a regular spot. Manager Terry Francona explained that the decision-making out of camp was driven by roster limitations. “For what I think are the right reasons, we wanted to see Carlos pitch,” he said, noting that Tomlin suffered in some respects because he still had an option. “We tried to figure out a way to keep Aaron Harang. We had so many meetings about that. You want to keep depth, knowing that you’re going to need it.” Tomlin, a 29-year-old righty, was solid in his return to Cleveland tonight after missing most of 2013 to Tommy John rehab and then losing his arbitration case to the club. David Laurila of Fangraphs provided an interesting breakdown of Tomlin’s offerings and how he hopes to succeed in his return from surgery.
- Of course, the Indians also have a surging Trevor Bauer throwing at the Triple-A level. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, the 23-year-old is among the top prospects in the game who are still waiting for their chance to shine at the major league level. For Bauer, who had 25 days of MLB service coming into the year, extended time in the minors would be needed to maintain an additional year of team control and avoid Super Two status. Rosenthal discusses the fact that several excellent youngsters seem ready for promotions that have not yet been forthcoming.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke with reporters today, including MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli, and covered a host of topics, beginning with Manny Machado. The standout third baseman called his $519K salary for the 2014 season "disappointing" last night, but Ghiroli reports that Machado will also receive a $100K bonus for winning a Platinum Glove award — an award being the best defensive player, regardless of position, in the league. Here's more on Machado and the Orioles…
- Duquette told Ghiroli and others today that the team visited the idea of a long-term deal for Machado last year, but talks didn't come to fruition. Those talks weren't resumed this spring, as the focus has been on getting Machado healthy. The third baseman said to Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com (Twitter link), however, that he likes the idea: "I’d be up for it, I’m open to it. Nothing has come up yet."
- Duquette added that there is no progress to report on extension talks with J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. Hardy told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that it's been 17 days since his agent even had discussions with the Orioles' front office (Twitter link). He's set to hit free agency next winter, while Davis and Wieters are controlled through 2015. Machado, of course, is under control for much longer and cannot become a free agent until the 2018-19 offseason.
- The market for Ervin Santana has become "interesting," per Duquette, who alluded to the fact that other teams are beginning to show interest due to various injuries in camp. Most notably, the Braves have begun to show interest in Santana after an MRI showed ligament damage in Kris Medlen's right elbow.
- Ghiroli wrote last night that top prospect Jonathan Schoop is impressing the Orioles both on and off the field with his relentless work ethic and his constant desire to pick the brains of veteran players to learn something new. Schoop added a good deal of muscle this offseason and is making a strong case to open the season as Baltimore's second baseman. However, he'd never be here if his baseball coach at age 13 hadn't slapped him on the back of the head and pulled him off a soccer field, Schoop recalled. The now-6'2", 228-pound Schoop had decided to try focusing on soccer, believing himself to be too small (he was 5'4" at the time).
The Orioles have agreed to a one-year, $7.7MM deal to avoid arbitration with catcher Matt Wieters, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The deal also includes award incentives, Heyman notes.
Wieters was one of the highest-profile arbitration cases remaining. He lands $200K short of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's projection, but will earn just above the mid-point of the sides' filing figures ($8.75MM vs. $6.5MM). Of course, the one-year arrangement does not extend the club's control over its top backstop. With extension talks reportedly stuck in neutral, Wieters remains on track to hit free agency following the 2015 season.