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The Orioles' Wieters dilema

Over this past weekend there was some chatter around MLB circles that the Baltimore Orioles might either be interested or at some point be forced to trade catcher Matt Wieters. Make no mistake about the fact that Wieters is under team control through the end of the 2015 season. However the big issue is that he’s a Scott Boras client, and they are rarely “allowed” to sign with their current team as opposed to testing the open market. It could also ensure that the Orioles at the very least get something back of significant value for Wieters, who presumably would draw more than just a run-of-the-mill prospect.

The key when talking trades regarding any player is to figure out if the player is worth more on the trade market or on the team. I would submit that Wieters is still worth more on the field for the O’s. HOWEVER, is it possible that could change or alter? According to mlbtraderumors.com, the Birds might be interested in signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia (formerly of the BoSox) if Wieters is traded. Personally I feel that Wieters is a better defensive catcher, although “Salty” is certainly a better hitter. So if the “given” was that Saltalamacchia would come to Baltimore, would Orioles fans be interested in trading Wieters?

My point has always been that the Orioles should try to re-sign players like Wieters as opposed to just assuming that they’ll walk. However they would probably have to vastly overpay in order to do that, and incidentally that goes for any Boras client. Keep in mind however that there’s a lot involved in this type of decision, and a lot of different fronts to consider. First and perhaps foremost, Wieters is a fan favorite at Camden Yards. And for the record I think that it’s a mutual feeling; I believe that Wieters genuinely enjoys playing in Baltimore. However on the other hand, it also goes well past the whole get something for him while you can concept. As I said, the only way that Wieters would re-sign with the Orioles right here right now is if they vastly overpaid. But if the Orioles traded Wieters might they then be able to sign someone like Saltalamacchia (presumably for less since he’s older) and ultimately have more money to sign someone such as Chris Davis to an extension?

As I said, there are a lot of different ways to look at this. Many people have told me that the Orioles would in theory have the luxury of hand-choosing where Wieters goes in that they could keep him out of the division (translated: away from Boston and New York). But again keep in mind that he’d be hitting the open market after 2015 anyways. But at the very least if they made a trade of that sort they could dictate where he went for the next two years or so…the immediate future that is. If it were me I’d try to send him to a National League team, for one so that the potential for him having career games again the Orioles would be minimized. However going to a National League team would also mean he couldn’t DH here and there as often, which would in effect add wear and tear on his body and thus bring his value down a bit after 2015. That might sound a bit harsh, especially for a player who currently has a lot of goodwill such as Matt Wieters. But these are the kinds of things that baseball execs have to take into account. The game itself is fan-friendly just as all industries are customer-friendly. But the business side of any industry is never the same as the public side.

Again, my stance would be that the Orioles should find a way to keep Wieters. However I’ll certainly grant that he’d bring a huge return on the trade market. Furthermore if they were to consider dealing him, they would most certainly get the biggest return this off season as opposed to any other year. Two years of team control is an eternity in baseball, so once spring training begins in February his value on the market would start to go down. Time will tell what happens moving forward, however I would submit that he has more value to the franchise behind the plate than on the market.

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