Matt Wieters Rumors
12:48pm: A club source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) that rumors that J.J. Hardy and Wieters are available just part of initial dialogue with teams. The source maintains they aren't on the trading block or being shopped.
11:19am: The Orioles are willing to trade catcher Matt Wieters, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). An extension is unlikely for the Scott Boras client and the Orioles believe that he is set to hit the open market after the 2015 season, barring a dramatic change in thinking.
Wieters, 27, had a solid season in 2013 (.235/.287/.417 with 22 homers) but it wasn't quite on the level of his previous two campaigns. Rosenthal suggested over the weekend that the O's could conceivably move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the open market. If the Orioles move him now, however, it'll be selling low on one of the best young catchers in baseball.
Let's take a look at the latest from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who's out with a new column of rumors from around the majors:
- A trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus increasingly looks "inevitable" given the Rangers' crowded infield. "Some team is going to get a good middle infielder from the Rangers. The only question is which one," Rosenthal writes. It's unlikely, however, that the club packages infielder Jurickson Profar with other young players in a deal for a star such as David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Rosenthal's sources say the Rangers want to keep their farm system stocked.
- Matt Garza's elbow shouldn't scare off potential suitors. Though he missed much of 2012 with an elbow issue, officials with both the Cubs and Rangers tell Rosenthal that the righty wasn't treated for elbow issues at all in 2013.
- There's mutual interest in a new deal between Southern California native Jason Vargas and the Angels, but Rosenthal's sources say the team is already examining other options and could move on from the left-hander if negotiations drag. Vargas may ultimately have to leave money on the table if he wants to remain with the club.
- The Orioles are at least considering options for a backup catcher, as Matt Wieters managed just a .628 OPS against lefties last season. Rosenthal notes that the O's could seek to move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as Wieters is unlikely to agree to an extension. However, trading him now would be selling low.
- Baltimore will also have to consider how they'll approach J.J. Hardy's impending free agency. Though Rosenthal writes that the Orioles' front office eventually aims to move Manny Machado to shortstop, it also views Hardy, who becomes a free agent after next season, as critical to the club.
- Executives from other teams are surprised at rumors that the Tigers are listening on Max Scherzer. Shipping Scherzer elsewhere and then losing Anibal Sanchez to an injury would be a major hit to the team's rotation.
- The Diamondbacks continue to wait for a reply from Dave Duncan on whether he will take their pitching coach job.
As the baseball world gathers at Citi Field for the All-Star break, the Orioles are looking to bring the Midsummer Classic back to Baltimore in 2016, Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun reports. It would be the first time the O's have hosted the All-Star Game since 1993, and a 2016 hosting date would also mark the team's 25th season at Camden Yards.
Here's the latest from Charm City...
- Scott Boras told reporters (including Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun) that he hasn't had any conversations with Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette about contract extensions for Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. “Dan and I talk all the time, but it’s the kind of thing where the focus is on the play and not really their contracts now," Boras said. Both players have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before they're eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. There was talk of a Wieters extension last offseason but the team now believes Wieters will test the open market in 2015. Davis is sure to receive a huge arbitration raise on his current $3.3MM salary, and it will be very interesting to see how any extension talks develop given Boras' involvement and Davis' sudden emergence as an elite slugger.
- The Orioles have been quiet on the international signing front since July 2, but Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that the team is actively working to identify and access international talent. "We're working all the markets. Teams have different strategies to acquire talent. Our strategy is to sign good players and look for value in the market and that is what our scouts are doing," Duquette said. "We are active on the international markets. We will be out executing our international recruiting strategy for the whole [2013-14] season." You can check out all of MLBTR's coverage of the 2013-14 international signing period here.
The Orioles and catcher Matt Wieters haven't made any progress on extension talks, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Insider subscription required). "Unless something changes dramatically," the team believes that Wieters will forego a long-term deal and hit the free agent market after the 2015 season.
Olney reported in April that there was "no momentum" between the two sides on a multiyear deal, though the O's were open to giving Wieters a six-year contract. Wieters was arbitration-eligible for the first time last winter and avoided going to an arb hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $5.5MM contract with Baltimore. The Boras Corporation client has two more years of arb-eligibility left before he becomes a free agent at age 29 and as Olney notes, Boras clients usually test the open market once they're close to free agency.
The Orioles may have been fortunate in holding off on an extension for the catcher given that Wieters is hitting just .231/.290/407 with 10 homers through 298 PA this season. Wieters carried a .260/.328/.421 career line into this season --- solid numbers for a catcher, but below expectations considering Wieters' high draft status (fifth overall in 2007) and his ranking as the sport's top prospect by Baseball America before the 2009 season.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras -- and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 -- could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
APRIL 13: The Orioles would be willing to give Wieters six years in an extension, reports Buster Olney ESPN.com (on Twitter). Olney further notes, however, that there is no momentum in the long-term extension discussions between the O's and their star catcher.
APRIL 3: The Orioles recently offered a contract extension of at least five years to Matt Wieters, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, Heyman adds that there is no evidence that the two sides are anywhere near an agreement. In fact, Wieters (a Boras Corporation client) says that if the O's have made an extension offer to him, then he doesn't know about it, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Then again, the catcher says that he doesn't want to be briefed on contract talks right now.
Wieters, who can become a free agent following the 2015 season, avoided arbitration with the Orioles this offseason by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.5MM. Heyman notes that the bar for catchers has been raised significantly with Buster Posey's extension, but it's safe to say the two aren't exactly comparables. Posey already has a Rookie of the Year, an MVP and two World Series titles under his belt. His .317/.384/.509 batting line from 2010-12 is also far superior to Wieters' .253/.326/.423 performance during that same span.
A look at MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows that catchers with between three and four years of service time have typically signed extensions worth $15-16MM. That's too low for Wieters, whose salary is already north of $5MM. A number closer to Miguel Montero's five-year, $60MM contract with the Diamondbacks could be more reasonable, though Montero was just one year from free agency when he signed that deal.
Heyman asked Orioles GM and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette how talks between the two sides were going but was simply told, "We'll enjoy him while he's here," in reply. Wieters recently told reporters that he would be open to discussing a long-term deal in Baltimore.
One Scott Boras client created a tense moment for another today as Prince Fielder lined a ball off the left hand of Stephen Strasburg during a Spring Training game. Strasburg seemed fine after the knock and continuing pitching, finishing the outing with three runs allowed and five strikeouts over six innings of work.
Here's the latest from around the Beltway from both the Nationals' and Orioles' camps...
- Matt Wieters told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com that he would be open to discusing a multiyear extension with the Orioles but didn't confirm whether any talks had taken place. "At this point, I am getting ready for the year and if something were to ever develop, I'd pretty much tell Scott [agent Scott Boras] to present the information," Wieters said. O's executive VP Dan Duquette said in January that the team would likely approach Wieters about a long-term deal at some point during the offseason, while the catcher said he just wants to focus on playing once Opening Day hits. Wieters has two more arbitration eligible years left and is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.
- Jair Jurrjens can't opt out of his Orioles contract until June 15, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter). The O's signed the veteran righty to a minor league deal last month.
- The Nationals are internally confident that Gio Gonzalez won't be suspended for his connection to the controversial Biogenesis clinic in Miami, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. MLB is continuing to investigate Gonzalez and other players named in the clinic's records, though last month it was reported that no banned substances were among Gonzalez's alleged purchases from Biogenesis.
- Nationals center field prospect Eury Perez could become trade bait after this season, MLB.com's Bill Ladson opines as part of a reader mailbag. Perez has become expendable with Denard Span in center and other prospects like Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor also in the mix.
- Nats GM Mike Rizzo hinted to reporters (including Ladson) that Chris Young may opt out of his contract on or before March 24 since there doesn't seem to be room for the right-hander on the Nationals' Major League roster. "We are certainly not going to keep him in the minor leagues if he has a chance at a big league job," Rizzo said. "That's only right. That's how we get these players to come with us under these conditions, because they know we are going to do right by them and treat them well."
- "We'll know what other teams think of him," Rizzo said of utilityman Carlos Rivero, who is out of options. "He is a good, versatile player. He is a guy that could help some teams....We'll see shortly." Rivero, 24, has a .265/.322/.386 line over 3222 career PA in the minor leagues since 2006. Here is the full list of this year's out of options players.
This morning, legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver passed away at the age of 82. O's managing partner Peter Angelos released a statement reading, "Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family." Here's more out of Baltimore as we fondly remember the Hall of Famer..
- Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette believes that the club will discuss a long-term deal with catcher Matt Wieters at some point, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The club avoided arbitration with Wieters yesterday by agreeing to a one-year, $5.5MM deal.
- Duquette expects Joe Saunders to make a decision this week but doesn't have a read on which way he might be leaning, tweets Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. The O's would like to have the pitcher back but other teams are interested, including the Twins.
- Closer Jim Johnson is heading to arbitration with the Orioles but he says that he isn't concerned as he has faith in the club and his representatives at Moye Sports Associates, Melewski tweets. Johnson filed for $7.1MM while the O's countered with $5.7MM.
- As we've heard before, shortstop J.J. Hardy isn't going anywhere, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Hardy definitely has trade interest though and the Tigers are said to be fans of his.
The Orioles avoided arbitration with Matt Wieters, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Scott Boras client obtained a $5.5MM contract for 2013, and topped even the most aggressive of estimates from MLBTR's resident arbitration forecaster, Matt Swartz.
Wieters remains under team control through 2015 and recently expressed interest in staying with the Orioles long-term. However, Boras clients rarely surrender free agent years while they're arbitration eligible, unless it's a precedent-setting deal.
The Orioles haven't yet engaged in any extension talks with Matt Wieters, but the catcher tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he would be very interested in staying in the black-and-orange for years to come.
"I've always been interested [in staying long-term in Baltimore]," Wieters said on Tuesday. "I'm a huge fan of Baltimore and what [Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette] have done. It's something to where it's a great baseball town, it's a fun place to play and it's a place where I enjoy playing."
Wieters is under team control through 2015 and is arbitration-eligible for the first time, with a shot at receiving a record salary for first-time arb-eligible catchers according to MLBTR's Matt Swartz. Before the 2012 season began, MLBTR's Mike Axisa thought a five-year, $22-$25MM extension would fit Wieters but the catcher's price tag has likely gone up following a performance that included 23 homers and a .249/.329/.435 slash line.
Connolly notes that Baltimore's location fits Wieters for family reasons, and the catcher himself has been impressed with how the O's have seen fit to lock up other building blocks like Showalter, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy in recent years.
"To have a manager like that and players like that [locked up], that definitely doesn't hurt," Wieters said.