Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is scheduled to meet with agent Scott Boras about a possible extension for catcher Matt Wieters, according to Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com. The 30-year-old is slated to qualify for free agency after the season.
Boras suggests to Connolly that there is at least some level of mutual interest in a new contract for Wieters, who has spent his entire career with the Baltimore organization. Most recently, he accepted a $15.8MM qualifying offer to stay with the club rather than going onto the open market last winter.
Things haven’t gone quite as team or player hoped in 2016. He has been healthy, appearing in 110 games, but hasn’t produced to his typical levels at the plate. Over 412 plate appearances, Wieters owns a .243/.299/.402 triple-slash, though he has hit 14 long balls.
According to Boras, those offensive woes aren’t a long-term concern. The agent is famed for his analogies, of course, and chose a somewhat odd one to describe the veteran backstop.
“This guy is General Jackson and General Lee,” said Boras. “He is the North and the South. He can do it all. He is all-around.”
It is certainly notable that the sides are set to discuss a new contract, as Wieters was expected to play an interesting role on the upcoming free agent market. He may still do so, but if not, he’d join Francisco Cervelli among catchers who signed new deals rather than testing the open waters — considerably thinning the overall crop and perhaps boosting the stock of top options like Wilson Ramos and Jason Castro.
It seems unlikely that the O’s will again extend Wieters a qualifying offer after his down year with the bat, though perhaps that can’t be discounted entirely. Certainly, this year’s anticipated $16.7MM qualifying offer cost seems a bit high for a player who has produced at about 17% below league average.
Notably, too, Boras represents ace Orioles closer Zach Britton and pending free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez. Connolly suggest that both could come up in talks, as well. Britton has two remaining years of arbitration control remaining and will be due a raise commensurate with his unbelievable campaign, so he’ll present an interesting case this winter. And Alvarez is set to go back into free agency after a productive year, with the Orioles potentially having continued interest — particularly with Mark Trumbo also readying to weigh offers from other organizations.