The Orioles get their wish after all. Matt Wieters will be accepting the qualifying offer for the 2016 season, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who has a reputation of being the go-to source of information that agent Scott Boras - Wieters' agent - wants to get out to the press.
It's a surprise for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the offer was never taken before this year, although Colby Rasmus changed that yesterday and it now seems like Rasmus and Wieters will not be alone in breaking through that barrier. It's also a surprise given that MLB Trade Rumors projected a four year, $64 million contract for Wieters, who was really the only catcher of note on the free agent market.
Perhaps that market wasn't materializing, or perhaps he believes he can do even better than that next year after cashing in for one year and $15.8 million for the 2016 season. If that proves to be the case, things won't be so bad for the Orioles. The contract year Wieters that one might have expected (OK, maybe that was just me) never really happened in 2015 due to his missing two months of the season recovering from last year's Tommy John surgery. Even once he returned it was clear he wasn't 100%.
MLB.com's beat writer for the Orioles, Brittany Ghiroli, got this reaction from Wieters:
Wieters said he has not heard of anything involving the Os trying to negotiate a multi-year deal. Cited comfort his and his families w/ Bal— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) November 13, 2015
Wieters also told Ghiroli that taking the qualifying offer represents "a little bit of a different approach". That is a British level of understatement.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MASN last night that the O's were hoping Wieters would take the offer. To this blogger, that seemed like such a bad outcome that it could not possibly be the truth. How could the Orioles have watched Wieters' 2015 and think, yes, we definitely need to keep this guy for next year? Assuming it wasn't a failed attempt at reverse psychology, Showalter has gotten what he hoped after all.
Could it end up working out? Sure, it could. Wieters could have that monster 2016 season and the Orioles could have a much easier choice to make him a qualifying offer one year from now, and next time around he might decline it. That could work out pretty well for the O's.
Right this moment, the only thing we know for sure is that one-third of the estimated $45-50 million that is believed to be available to the Orioles for next year's payroll is gone. That large expenditure has occurred without plugging a single one of the large, gaping holes that plagued the 2015 Orioles team.
They're now down to $30-35 million and they need to find two starting pitchers and two outfielders with that money. Good luck. They're going to need it. And if they want to keep Chris Davis, they can essentially forget about getting a real answer in the rotation or in the outfield.
Oh, and one of the three compensation draft picks that we've basically all been expecting since before the season even started vanishes into thin air as well. The O's will still end up with one or two, depending on where Davis and Wei-Yin Chen sign.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that this contract will give Wieters the second-highest single-season salary in Orioles history, and he's only kept from the top slot by the fact that Adam Jones' salary increases to $16 million next season.
On the bright side, I guess now we probably don't have to worry about the Orioles signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia.