Matt Wieters’ poor ratings in terms of pitch-framing are weighing down his market, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney (ESPN Insider required). Olney spoke to multiple evaluators who believe that Wieters’ defense declined in 2016, and as he notes, a number of executives around the game are placing a greater emphasis on framing, which is perhaps why Jason Castro just landed a three-year deal despite poor offensive production dating back to the 2014 season. Per Olney, while both the Twins and Rays are interested in Castro, it’s not clear that either has any interest in Wieters. Olney lists the Orioles and Nationals as potential landing spots for Wieters and also adds that the Braves have expressed some interest, “but probably for far less than what [agent Scott Boras] wants.” Also worth a brief mention with regard to Wieters: Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports that he suffered a laceration to his non-throwing arm in a household mishap this offseason. The wound required stitches, and Wieters is wearing a protective shield for the time being, but he’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities in January. The injury shouldn’t see any delay in his readiness for Spring Training.
More on the free-agent market…
- Executives with interested teams are beginning to get the sense that Carlos Beltran’s market is coming down to the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Rangers, too, could be “lurking” in the background and contemplating a more earnest attempt to retain him, although WEEI’s Rob Braford reported that Texas wasn’t in the running as of last week. Though he turns 40 next April, Beltran obviously enjoyed a strong 2016 season split between the Yankees and Rangers. The Yankees and Red Sox have the clearest paths to playing time for him, from my vantage point, as the Astros also have Evan Gattis on a guaranteed $5.2MM salary to spend a considerable amount of time at DH. However, if the Astros are comfortable deploying Gattis more sparingly or giving Beltran some time in the outfield, the fit could still work. And, of course, it’s never bad to have significant significant depth options.
- The Marlins are still in the mix to retain left-hander Mike Dunn, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, but the recent four-year, $30.5MM contract that the Cardinals gave to Brett Cecil may have skewed the market for left-handed relief help. Dunn’s representatives could push for an annual value north of $5MM, which may be more than Miami was hoping to spend. Like Cecil, Dunn has had some success against right-handed hitters in his career and may not be deployed as a pure lefty specialist by the team that ultimately signs him. However, Dunn is 14 months older than Cecil and also battled a forearm strain this season. Beyond that, he simply hasn’t been as good as Cecil in recent years; Cecil owned a 2.90 ERA with 11.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate from 2013-16. Dunn, meanwhile, had a 3.38 ERA with 9.9 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 35.4 percent ground-ball rate in that same time.
- Former Indians right-hander Justin Masterson said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today that his agent, Randy Rowley, is talking with a few teams as he looks for a landing spot (Twitter link). “It’s looking for a situation that will fit,” said Masterson. “I feel healthy. I feel strong.” Masterson spent most of the 2016 season with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate and didn’t perform particularly well, pitching to a 4.97 ERA with a 32-to-26 K/BB ratio in 54 1/3 innings. While he’s still young enough for a rebound (32 in March), Masterson hasn’t delivered above-average results since his All-Star 2013 season with Cleveland. In the interim, he’s been sidelined by myriad knee and shoulder injuries.