Orioles catcher Matt Wieters appears to be headed for the open market, as Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports in his latest notes column. Recent chatter between agent Scott Boras and the club did not really even delve into extension talks, because it wasn’t seen as likely to result in any progress with the sides “believed to be tens of millions of dollars apart.” And Baltimore doesn’t seem to be interested in dangling a $16.7MM qualifying offer after Wieters took the one-year deal last offseason. Whether the O’s will pursue Wieters in free agency remains unclear — the team has chased its own free agents in the recent past, and does have a need behind the dish — but it seems that they’ll let him test interest from other clubs regardless.
Here’s more from Heyman’s column along with a few other notes on pending free agents:
- The Yankees have an interesting offseason ahead, with many internal options but also a clear need to improve, and Heyman says the club will be looking to bolster its power while adding to its stable of arms — both in the starting staff and the bullpen. Last winter, New York didn’t give out a single big league contract, but that list of wants certainly suggests that things will be different this time around. One area the club could target, Heyman suggests, is the outfield. There are no shortage of possibilities on hand, with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Hicks, and a returning Dustin Ackley joined by less-established players such as Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder, Jake Cave, Mason Williams, Aaron Judge, and possibly Clint Frazier in the possible mix. The unit’s overall output this season was uninspiring, though, and its most productive player — Carlos Beltran — is already playing elsewhere.
- While the Phillies are said to be interested in adding to their lineup and rotation, Heyman writes that the club isn’t quite prepared for a major spending spree. Philadelphia’s brass believes that the team is at least a year away from competing in earnest, so it would be somewhat premature to go all-out on this winter’s market. That being said, it does still seem reasonable to think that the team will make some targeted additions as it seeks to ramp back up, with Heyman suggesting a left-handed hitter to spend time at both first base and the corner outfield.
- Though his season ended with an early exit due to a sprained knee, Jeremy Hellickson provided the Phillies with solid output all year — he’ll wrap things up with a 3.71 ERA in 189 innings — and will hit the open market having significantly boosted his stock. He said after tonight’s game that he’s looking for multiple years on his next contract, as Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. It seems rather likely he’ll find that elsewhere, with the big question being whether the Phils will make him a qualifying offer on his way out. That kind of cash could prove tempting, but it seems that Hellickson is hoping for some long-term security, and he ought to do quite well even if he’s tagged with draft compensation given the lack of other options.
- Pirates righty Ivan Nova says he hopes to remain in Pittsburgh and intends to value his comfort there, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter links). Still, he suggested that’s far from a certainty. “I don’t want to leave this clubhouse, to be honest,” he said. “But it’s not up to me.” It’s not immediately clear just what Nova meant by that comment, but certainly there are plenty of other factors at play — on his end, but also for the Pirates and other clubs. The 29-year-old has positioned himself nicely with a huge showing since heading to Pittsburgh. After his outing tonight, Nova has allowed just 21 earned runs over 59 1/3 innings with 47 strikeouts against only three walks.