I was interested to see this article on MLB Trade Rumors over the weekend regarding the Baltimore Orioles and catcher Matt Wieters. Based on this article, it sounds as if the O’s are being fairly proactive in trying to get Wieters to remain with them for the foreseeable future. Wieters has also said that he would be very open to discussing an extension with the Orioles at some point, which means that he apparently likes the situation that he’s in. However there are two words hanging over this situation that will make it very difficult for the Orioles: SCOTT BORAS.
Make no mistake about the fact that Boras is not a good agent; he’s a GREAT one in the sense that he always maximizes the payouts for his clients. Part of the way that he does that is by almost mandating that his clients go out on the open market to maximize their value. An agent obviously can’t “mandate” that his client not sign an extension with his team, but Boras is obviously a good salesman in that he’s been able to convince his clients over the years that it’s not the greatest idea. One has to assume that Matt Wieters will be no different.
With that in mind there’s something that was said over the weekend that should be of concern to the Orioles and Orioles fans. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported on the O’s Xtra pregame show on Saturday that when asked about an extension being in the works Wieters said he hadn’t heard anything. Wieters said before the season that he’d be open to exploring an extension with the Orioles, and it appears that like Adam Jones before him he seems to like playing in Baltimore (as well as the atmosphere surrounding the team). So…if in fact an offer has been made by the Orioles, and Wieters doesn’t know about it…
…get where I’m going with this? Here’s how it works; the team contacts the agent with an offer, and the agent passes that along to the player for discussion. Certainly I’m sure Wieters has heard the media reports of an offer being out there, but if he hasn’t “formally” heard anything from Scott Boras, that means one of two things: 1) The reports are incorrect, or 2) Boras never told Wieters of the offer(s). In fairness let’s not assume that selection #1 can’t possibly be true, because media reports are incorrect all the time. However if in fact the correct answer is behind door #2, the Orioles are in a lot of trouble (through no fault of their own I might add).
The selection behind door #2 indicates that Mr. Boras has an offer in hand from the Orioles…and he’s withholding it from Wieters. Please keep in mind that I have no way of knowing if this is true, and while I am playing devil’s advocate I’m not necessarily accusing Boras of this. However it would certainly be consistent with Boras’ track record of doing everything possible to get his players to go out on the open market. There’s no problem with a player having his agent handle all of this business for him, and basically telling the agent to call him if something comes up. That’s exactly what Jones did last year, and it’s what players have done for years. However an offer from the player’s current club (and one which the player has expressed an intention of staying with) is probably something that would qualify as “something coming up.”
Part of the problem is that the Orioles haven’t always had the greatest relationship with Boras. That relationship has improved over the last few years, but some of his favorite teams are the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Nationals. This is not to say that Boras will steer his clients towards those teams, as if the Orioles (or someone else) offers more money they’ll jump on that. However Boras aims to get teams into bidding wars, and he steers his clients away from giving any semblance of a “hometown discount.” Granted an agent’s job is to make money for his clients, and Boras is definitely good at that. Furthermore to his credit, he’s never really cared what the public’s perception is of him, although you’d be hard-pressed to submit that it’s positive.
The fact is that the Orioles are going to have to play ball with Boras to keep Wieters. I’m not big on the PR game that a lot of organizations play, however the fact that the Orioles’ offer somehow leaked into the public is a good thing for the O’s. Ultimately if Wieters walks it will be because Boras drove his value up and sold him to a high bidder as opposed to the Orioles low-balling him. However unless the public knows that, they might be inclined to blame the O’s. Again, I’m not saying that Boras is withholding information from Wieters regarding a contract offer from the Orioles, because I really don’t know what their arrangement is and what’s been offered. However if that was in fact the case, I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled if I were Matt Wieters.
The O’s return to play this evening at 7 PM eastern time as they welcome the Tampa Rays to the yard to open up a nine-game homestand. The Birds will send Jake Arrieta to the mound this evening, who’s coming off a somewhat lackluster start in Boston although it was better than his first one. Arrieta will try to lower his 7.20 ERA against the six-plus ERA of Tampa starter Roberto Hernandez (the former Fausto Carmona). All players for both teams will wear the number 42 in tonight’s game in honor of Jackie Robinson Day.