SUNDAY: Wieters told Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com and other reporters on Sunday that his surgery was to remove a tendon. Wieters believes he could return within six to eight weeks.
THURSDAY: Nationals catcher Matt Wieters has undergone surgery on his left hamstring, per a team announcement. Wieters had already gone on the DL, so no immediate roster moves will be required.
The big question is what kind of rehabilitation timeline will be necessary. Further details are not yet available, but it certainly does not appear to be promising news for the veteran backstop, who had previously only been diagnosed with a strain. Clearly, this is not a typical hamstring injury that requires only rest and rehabilitation.
Wieters, who is nearing his 32nd birthday, has not exactly overwhelmed since joining the Nationals in advance of the 2017 campaign. But he had been a useful player in the early going this year, reversing his struggles at the plate by carrying a .231/.342/.385 batting line with ten walks against a dozen strikeouts.
Even if the Nats have cause to believe Wieters could return at some point during the current season, it now seems likelier than ever that an outside addition will be needed. Spencer Kieboom is currently backing up newly-minted starter Pedro Severino at the position for the time being. While both are considered defensively proficient, they’re also thin on MLB experience and neither has shown much hitting capability in the upper minors. Suspended youngster Raudy Read will be available again before too long, though the preference will likely be to get him back in the swing of things in the upper minors.
For the Nationals, there’s also a longer-term need to consider. Wieters is earning $10.5MM this season before returning to the open market. While Severino ought to represent a reserve or platoon piece for some time, he does not profile as anything approaching an everyday backstop. Read perhaps offers greater upside with the bat, but is hardly a can’t-miss prospect.
There are a variety of hypothetical options out there for the Nationals, who’ll likely find it difficult to make a substantial upgrade until closer to the trade deadline. Bringing in a player such as Miguel Montero, who opened the season in D.C., could help bridge the gap. And it’s conceivable the Nats could give Blake Swihart a crack, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted yesterday, though they’d have to believe more in his capabilities behind the dish than do the Red Sox. It also may just be that the Nationals will prefer to roll with what they have for a bit while seeking to boost the depth at Triple-A.
Looking ahead a bit to the deadline, J.T. Realmuto remains the obvious prize, as we explored recently in a post. But he’ll be widely pursued and figures to cost a significant haul in prospect value. Old friend Wilson Ramos is among the potential rental assets the Nationals could consider, but he and others likely won’t hit the block unless and until the Rays and other organizations decide to pack it in for the season.