The Orioles have made a qualifying offer to slugger Mark Trumbo but have passed on the chance to do the same with catcher Matt Wieters. Baltimore’s decision on Trumbo was reported by Roch Kubtko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter), with Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter) reporting on the decision not to extend the $17.2MM, single-season offer to Wieters. (Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball first tweeted that it was unlikely Wieters would receive the qualifying offer.)
Trumbo represented an easy call after he launched a league-leading 42 home runs. The 30-year-old continues to strike out a ton and isn’t much of an on-base threat — he ran up a .316 OBP last year and sits at just .303 for his career. He’s also a dreadful defender in the outfield, though he generally rates well at first and delivers enough power to represent a regular DH option. Ultimately, the long ball plays well in free agency, and he’s young enough that he ought to find multiple years in free agency even after declining the QO (as is widely expected).
It was a somewhat trickier call with regard to Wieters, long the franchise’s top backstop. Baltimore was surprised when he took the QO last year, but perhaps wasn’t too disappointed with the chance to retain him on a one-year commitment. The immediate outlook still cries out for a veteran receiver — prospect Chance Sisco probably isn’t ready, and Caleb Joseph had a terrible 2016 season — but that doesn’t mean the club is interested in taking on that kind of salary this time around.
Wieters, 30, struggled through what may be his final year with the O’s. The switch hitter ended with a .243/.302/.409 slash line over 464 plate appearances. Though he did hit 17 home runs, he fell well shy of the above-average offensive numbers he posted in prior years. Wieters also didn’t receive strong framing reviews, though he was solid with his arm by measure of Baseball Prospectus.
Still, without the QO weighing him down, Wieters will have a chance at a strong, multi-year deal in free agency. With Wilson Ramos injured, Wieters and Jason Castro are probably the top two candidates for teams looking to fill in immediately behind the dish.