The remaining free agents at the top of the market are largely comprised of corner bats and relief pitchers — not exactly an unforeseen development heading into the offseason if one were to look at the entire class as a whole. The market looked to be stocked with quality relievers and solid (if unspectacular in some cases) first base/corner outfield/designated hitter candidates. That those types of players remain available in bulk isn’t a huge surprise. A look at the top remaining free agents from MLBTR’s Top 50 list, though, does present a free agent with a markedly different skill set that has yet to find a home despite a fair amount of need at the position around the league: Matt Wieters.
Wieters isn’t coming off a great season, of course. His 17 home runs seem like a fair amount for a catcher, but homers were up league-wide in 2016, and there were eight backstops that hit more long balls than Wieters (plus another five that hit between 14 and 16). Wieters’ .243/.302/.409 batting line checked in about 12 to 13 percent below the league average, per park-adjusted metrics like wRC+ and OPS+, and it was a near-mirror image of the average batting line produced by catchers across the game (.242/.310/.391). He was able to display the durability he was lacking in 2015 when he returned from Tommy John surgery, though, tallying 424 plate appearances and building up to the point where he caught on six consecutive days in September. Wieters did halt 35 percent of would-be stolen bases attempted against him, but he also posted slightly below-average framing marks for the fourth straight season.
[Related: Matt Wieters’ Free Agent Profile]
Overall, Wieters’ age-30 season was a fine performance, even if it wasn’t outstanding. There may be a disconnect between his actual on-field value and his perception among fans — the former uber-prospect label and four All-Star nods inflate his reputation — but teams probably know they can expect a decent performance out of Wieters. He’s a solid everyday option behind the plate even if he’s not the superstar some believed he’d become. He’s also unsigned as New Year’s Eve approaches, despite the fact that other starting catchers such as Jason Castro, Wilson Ramos and Welington Castillo have all signed free-agent deals thus far. With those teams crossed off as potential fits (as well as the Astros, who traded for Brian McCann), Wieters’ market has shrunk a bit, but there are still several clubs that could reasonably be landing spots for the longtime Oriole. Let’s run down a few speculative possibilities…
- Angels: Following their trade of Jett Bandy to the Brewers, the Angels have Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez atop their depth chart behind the plate. Both have sound defensive reputations, but neither has ever produced in the Majors. Some form of catching addition seems likely for the Angels, though Wieters might be too expensive for their tastes. The Halos have already added Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa, Jesse Chavez, Ben Revere and Maldonado via trade or free agency this winter — good for a total of $25.65MM (using MLBTR’s arbitration projections for Espinosa and Maldonado). For a luxury-tax-averse team, Wieters might prove too costly following all of those additions.
- Rockies: Colorado is clearly in win-now mode, and they’re looking at inexperienced options like Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy behind the plate right now (depth chart). The Rox might like the idea of bringing in a veteran catcher to work with a young rotation, and Wieters has to like the idea of playing at Coors Field, even if it’s on a shorter deal than he might’ve hoped heading into the offseason.
- Diamondbacks: After surprisingly non-tendering Castillo, the Diamondbacks have inked defensive stalwart Jeff Mathis to a two-year deal and claimed another solid defender off waivers in the form of Juan Graterol. It would seem that the new D-backs front office is prioritizing catcher defense, and they may not love Wieters’ framing numbers as a result. Still, for a team with Chris Herrmann and Mathis atop its catching depth chart, Wieters looks at the very least like an on-paper fit.
- Braves: Wieters has been connected to the Braves for years now, given his South Carolina roots and the fact that he starred at Georgia Tech in college. GM John Coppolella didn’t completely rule out a run at Wieters when asked about the possibility recently (Twitter link to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM), but the Braves do have Tyler Flowers as a solid defensive option on a reasonable contract right now. And, although Wieters is a switch-hitter, he’s always been better from the right side of the plate, so he doesn’t line up with Flowers from a platoon standpoint.
- Nationals: Losing Ramos led the Nats to trade for Derek Norris, though he’s coming off a dreadful season with the Padres and there were some brief rumors of pursuing Wieters and flipping Norris elsewhere. Jose Lobaton is the primary fallback option to Norris, with youngsters Pedro Severino and Spencer Kieboom waiting in the wings. For a team looking to defend its NL East crown, the pairing of Norris and Lobaton isn’t exactly teeming with certainty. Norris won’t be so well-compensated that he couldn’t be dropped to a backup role, so there’s not exactly a need to move him in the event of a Wieters signing (though Lobaton would need to be moved elsewhere in order to keep both Wieters and Norris).
- White Sox: Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro did the bulk of the catching for the South Siders in 2016, but they’re both out of the organization, leaving Omar Narvaez as the likeliest option behind the plate. The ChiSox are rebuilding, so perhaps there’s simply no interest in spending on a relatively premium free agent, but if there’s a belief in the front office that Wieters’ market has dipped and he can be had on a potential value deal, he makes sense on paper. GM Rick Hahn could always hope to flip him for prospects down the line.
- Mets: New York is an admitted long shot, but Travis d’Arnaud has yet to prove he can stay healthy and productive in the Majors, while Kevin Plawecki has yet to provide any offense at the big league level. There’s been no indication that the Mets have any desire to add a new starting catcher, and they’re reportedly waiting to move a corner outfielder (e.g. Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson) before spending further. Relief help is a far likelier target for the Mets, but there’s certainly a case that Wieters makes the win-now Mets a better team.
There are certainly some other possibilities not listed here — the Phillies could jump in on a short-term deal or the Mariners could look to add a more consistent/stable option than Mike Zunino, for instance — but the bulk of the league does have its catching situation fairly solidified. Let’s close this out with a poll (link to poll for Trade Rumors app users)…
Um, isn’t Derek Norris the Nationals primary Catcher going forward?
I have to believe they wouldn’t settle for that.
Yeah, he is. And that’s bad for the Nats.
There has been talk in DC of signing Wieters and flipping Norris.
I’d say it’s between Washington and Atlanta. I don’t think any of the other teams either need him because they’re either to early into a rebuild or just have better options. I wouldn’t want him though unless his price has dropped significantly
What about the Rockies? No primary catcher. Planning on contending. Lefty heavy lineup.
I think sticking with Murphy is smarter. It’s risky but so is paying a declining wieters a lot.
C Derek Norris was acquired by Washington from San Diego
D-No is pretty awful as an everyday option though. He benefits just facing leftys
Hes going to Atlanta. Its just a question of how much?
Just wondering here, but if he can’t find a job here at catcher soon and considering his defense questions, is it possible he move to first? Still think he’ll land with either Washington or Atlanta as a catcher
He could move to first; but his offense is terrible for a 1B, and the market for 1B/DH is pretty loaded still
I can see Wieters signing with the Angels only if his market is so bad that he becomes a huge bargain. But then again, I’d see him signing elsewhere, like Atlanta, if he became that much of a bargain.
I can see the A’s as a possibility. I think Vogt has trade appeal or can be played at 1st/DH/or RF. Signing Wieters gives them a trade chip to attack that glaring hole in CF.
The Yankees sent $11M with McCann when they traded him, leaving him with a net salary of $11.5M per year. They got back a couple of very young prospect arms. Wieters and McCann had pretty similar years in 2015. Just how much is Wieters actually worth? Don’t forget, before the two lost years for the surgery, his 2013 was barely average. I don’t know what Boras is asking, but the signing team is going to have to take into account that when Wieters takes the field in 2017, his last good season would have been 2012.
I’ll buy the Rockies are in “win-now” mode when they land someone other than Desmond to play 1b and deal for a starter.
Rox don’t especially need a starter. They have one of best collections of young SP’s in the game. Sure, if they can grab Quintana, that’s another story, but there’s no one else available who would make their rotation.
Quintana doesn’t profile well in Coors. Lots of balls in play. Just an average GB rate.
The longer Wieters stays on the market I can see the Angels entering his sweepstakes. I am not sure how he feels about the west coast nor how Mike S. feels about him, he prefers defensive over offensive catchers.
Eppler is clearly prizing up-the-middle defense in general and pitch-framing specifically, both of which would disqualify Weiters. If he hit like Pudge (either of them), it would offset defensive shortcomings, but he hasn’t hit like that since 2012.
I REALLY hope the Mets get Wieters! I’ve been calling for them to sign him! It’s the last piece we need imo.
Yes, the Mets need a better catcher. No, Wieters is not better than what they have.
Really? What statistics are you looking at? Travis is too often hurt and Kevin can’t hit. Of course the key is that you are ok with the Wilpon’s being cheap owners. They spend money like a small market team and most of the time when they do it is overpayment for being overanxious.
If your prayers for the starting staff’s health are answered (a big if I might add) then realize that the window of opportunity with this group is closing. Forget about how many more years of control they have. The reality is that in the NY media market combined with agents like Scott Boras will end up as detriments to the team. Combined with a manger who’s legacy is to burn through pitchers arms like a matchbook (start by reading about the career and comeback of Johann Santana) and you will hear the second hand of the watch clicking.
I wouldn’t say the Mets don’t spend any money. Just cause the GM doesn’t sign the guys you want doesn’t make them cheap.
How much did they just give to Cespedes? The Mets have the god father of moneyball running the show and more money that you think. As for Collins, he hasn’t shown himself to abuse his staff and has gone to a six man rotation at times last year when warranted in addition to holding back deGrom from starts so he wouldn’t overwork himself.. As for Johan, that was a decision Terry Collins does regret whole heartedly and has gone on record to say that.
But yes, wieters, by virtue of the fact that he was mostly healthy and is a decent hitting and fielding catcher is worlds better than the piss poor fielding d’Arnaud and the raw hitting plawicki and rivera
I hope Coppy passes, Braves do not need him IMO.
Mariners aren’t an option…they traded for Carlos Ruiz to go with Z.
Rockies make a lot of sense. Poor / unproven options on the roster, a desire to win and cash to spend, and would he an attractive short term option for Wieters if he wanted to re-establish value and re-enter the market.
And, who knows what the Rockies are up to, so why not?
Bring some added excitement to A-town and the new stadium while stretching that lineup out (at the right price=1-2 years + 1 year option.).
The Tuffy G signing was a bit premature and a little odd IMHO. I wouldnt be heartbroken beginning the season with flowers as starter at all, but weiters definitely adds a bit more length and fear in the lineup.
Definitely would hate seeing him fill Ramos’ shoes this fast and added to that lineup..
I think the Tuff G. signing was always a plan to use him as a veteran for the pitchers at AAA. I believe the Braves really valued having a catcher at the AAA level that would bring some veteran leadership, a catcher that reportedly worked well with his teammates and pitchers, and one that held a high baseball IQ. I believe Tuff G. has and holds all of those qualities in spades, and I think his signing was a relative blessing in disguise for the Braves.
While he most likely will not have any impact whatsoever on the Braves actual ML roster, he will still impact their success as a team.
Several pitchers that will be pivotal pieces of the Braves rebuild will pitch at the AAA level this season, both starting pitchers and relief pitchers…Guys like Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb, Lucas Sims, Patrick Weigel, Jason Hursh, AJ Minter, Akeel Morris, Luke Jackson, Dirks, Mader, Roney, Mclaughlin, Sobotka, Lewis, among several other high quality, possible future ML contributors, not to mention also possibly even Max Fried..
Most, if not all, of those pitchers will spend some time at the AAA level, and having a quality catcher with ML experience like Tuffy will indeed help out those young pitchers tremendously. Having Tuffy available for those pitchers will be like having an extra coach and mentor out there on the field at all times…
For all of those combined reasons, that’s why I have to say I really love the signing of Tuffy!!!
All we can do now is what us fans, and armchair GM’s, love to do….speculate and rosterbate. For now though guys, let’s just try to keep it fairly clean..lol
I have a couple of thoughts about Wieters joining the Braves….
2.) Everywhere people are commenting that they would like Wieters, IFF (if and only if) him and Boras lower their asking price…What exactly is their asking price?? Even in an inflated free agent market, after coming off around 4 mediocre at best seasons, how long and expensive of a contract can Wieters and Boras really want or expect??
3.) I would gladly welcome Wieters to the Braves IFF he were to accept something along the lines of a 1 year deal worth 12-14 million, and a similar team option for a second year with a 1.25 million buyout.
4.) I REALLY want a Lucroy/Flowers depth chart for the Braves going into the 2018 season. The Braves will most definitely have the available funds to draw Lucroy’s interest, it will honestly just come down to whether or not Lucroy wants to join the Braves, and if Coppy and Hart see him as a relative “final puzzle piece.”
Lucroy spent years on mediocre to bad Brewers teams. He’s not going to sign with a non-contender, and that’s what the Braves are.
Lucroy will likely sign with the team offering the most money, period. As most if not all contending teams already have a good starting catcher, who’s to say that Atlanta won’t be the most competitive team with a need at the position?
Because I’m sure Boras’ phone is just exploding with offers for Wieters that he’ll be able to choose a “contending” team? Please…
His choices are going to be very limited given what his agent is asking for and he’ll go to whomever offers the most money + years.
He’s talking about Lucroy
Lets give a weiters a shot at a javy lopez type season “in his prime” and see what unfolds (at the price you and you and i do seem to agree on,,)
Not saying its going to happen in the slightest, but he could be one helluva wildcard at least! What’s there to lose Coppy!?
I would be more than to happy to eat crow at 1 year minimim, but would LOVE a cushion of 2 or 3 years at least!
(Already going to renew for mlb extra innings but this signing would put it over the top decision-wise.)
Can anyone tell me exactly how stats are adjusted for park factors? There’s a dude in a bar I hang out at that I wanna argue with. It’s a slow week.
That sounds like my kind of night over beers but my god, the bar might run out of my beer.. theres too many factors to list without a precise argument listed, (altitude, time of year, rh/lh/sw, pull-happy, up the middle/opposite field hitter, length of lf/cf/rf walls..) This is one argument id like to be a fly on the wall in or better off–in person! This isnt even a scratch on the surface..
Both FG and B-R explain how they figure out park factors on their sites.
Who’s your team davbee and can you please predict the USA’s status-quo a year from now under Trump while you’re at it, thanks in advance.
Out of curiosity. Why are the Jays not a mention on this list? Are they not looking for a decent to above average catcher to go with Russel Martin? In all seriousness how much is this guy worth and could the Jays make it happen?
I don’t think any team wants to invest 30 million dollars / year on the catching position.
I don’t pay a lot of attention to the photos attached to the articles on here but I have to say the photo on this arrivals of weiters is pretty awesome
Nationals sign Wieters, flipping D. Norris to the wanna Nationals aka: Los Angels Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, CA?
He’s an aging superstar looking for big $$$… can’t count out the Yankees
Wieters was never a superstar.
My guess is the Red Sox, not sure what they never get mentioned, they don’t have an obvious starter.
If Boras has to settle for a crappy deal I would think he would do it with a high-profile team that can offer a lot of at-bats and a strong chance at playoff exposure.
Weiters severely overplayed his hand. He is nothing but a “name” from back in the day. His best years are well behind him but he wants to get paid like he is somewhat of a star and he is not even close
Angels give wieters a 3 year offer, we need him! Although scott boras might not get along well with the angels.
Whatever happened to Nick Hundley? I know Coors field and his defense isn’t great, but it would seem there’s a market for him, no?
Cubs if they trade M. Montero???
Pay him BIG for a 2 year deal. But Schwarber some more time to heal his knee before he catches a couple games a week. And allow V. Caratini plenty of time to be ready and also insurance for him. I’m pretty high on him as a backup for a good while in Chicago. Contreras and Caratini with KS able to catch around 3 games every 2 weeks. But I’m ok with trading Miggy and signing Weiters to even a 1 yr deal