Orioles fans who, for whatever reason, have been unable to bear the thought of not getting to see Matt Wieters play any more can take heart. Wieters finally signed on Tuesday and he won’t be very far away. The neighboring Washington Nationals have turned out to be the team to finally take the plunge on Wieters. The deal is still pending a physical, so it’s not official yet, but close enough.
The contract turns out to be structured similarly to the one that the Orioles gave to Welington Castillo two months earlier. Wieters got a two-year deal from the Nationals but has the option to opt out after only one year if he puts together a monster season at age 31 despite not demonstrating that capability in eight previous big league seasons.
Wieters gets more money than Castillo, though. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the contract’s value is $21 million guaranteed, with $10 million of that coming this season and $11 million for next season if Wieters does not exercise the opt-out. Castillo’s contract is for at most $13 million, with $6 million in salary for this season.
The Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes added that up to $5 million of the salary will be deferred through 2021.
Whether the Orioles would have signed Wieters at this price if they could have done so two months ago is a natural question to wonder. I think that they might have, because we’ve seen this offseason how much they like their guys, but this wouldn’t have been the price two months ago, or even two weeks ago.
Agent Scott Boras seems to have been asking for the moon, dropping ridiculous comparisons like calling Wieters “Carlton Fisk-like” and attempting to Jedi mind trick away any concerns about Wieters’ poor pitch framing ability. There was that interview last week where Boras said Wieters was like Brian McCann offensively (he’s not) and Russell Martin defensively (he’s not) and therefore deserves a similar contract to them.
Only after this long could Boras finally connect with a team, and this, at least according to Rosenthal, was over “lukewarm” front office interest and the result of a direct connection with ownership.
The Nationals seemed to be the destination always expected among the baseball talking class for Wieters, probably because of that strong Boras-Nats owner connection.
The Nats catching situation was only a little bit less dire than how things were for the Orioles before they signed Castillo. You don’t want to go into April with your catchers being Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton. Even if Wieters scuffs along to another below league-average hitting season, he’s probably a better choice than those guys. So maybe it’ll work out for everybody.
It’ll be weird to see Wieters, the one-time franchise savior who never was as good as they said he would be, playing on the lesser half of MASN. It would have been weird to see him in any other team’s uniform. He’s been an Oriole forever and now he won’t be. That’s the way it goes.