The Athletics are at least “considering” pursuit of veteran backstop Matt Wieters, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). It’s unclear just how much interest the Oakland organization has; multiple unnamed rival organizations are also said to be involved.
Wieters, now 32, first qualified for free agency after the 2015 season. At the time, he was considered a high-quality, everyday backstop, but he was also coming off of two injury-plagued campaigns and took a qualifying offer to remain with the Orioles. Despite a subpar 2016 campaign, the Nationals promised him $21MM over two years (while also giving Wieters an opt-out chance that he did not ultimately take).
Add it all up, and Wieters owns a tepid .235/.303/.376 batting line in 1,200 plate appearances over the past three campaigns. Though he still draws average reviews for his blocking and throwing, Wieters has graded out as a negative in the pitch framing department. Of course, he’s also a respected veteran who seemed to suit the pitchers who worked with him in D.C., so there’s room for interpretation regarding his defensive value.
Wieters obviously does not profile as a regular receiver at this point, but the former fifth overall pick does still seem like a reasonable target for the right team. The fact that he hits from both sides of the plate adds to the appeal, along with his clubhouse gravitas. For the Athletics, there’s clearly room to improve a depth chart that’s presently topped by Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann. Wieters ought to be an affordable option and still has a bit of pop; perhaps the A’s will stake a bet on the hope that he’ll be reinvigorated in a timeshare situation.