Before I really get into this in depth, let me state unequivocally that Matt Wieters would not be on the 15-day DL if the Baltimore Orioles definitively thought he wouldn’t play again in 2014. This is not to say that he will play again, or even that the club thinks he’ll play again this year. Quite frankly, I suspect that the O’s are preparing for the realization that Wieters will be undergoing Tommy Johns surgery at some point in the near future. (Please keep in mind that’s an educated guess based off of the comments of various people.)
Tommy Johns surgery in effect has a year’s recovery time. That would mean that Wieters would be able to play again one year from now.
However this could be a totally different type of situation that perhaps Boras himself hasn’t even seen. Here he would have a client who would have less than one full season to show that he’s worthy of a big money long-term contract from ANY team. Keep in mind that following Tommy Johns a player isn’t always the player he was before the surgery – at least not at first. In many cases he comes back stronger, but my point here is that during much of whatever time he would theoretically play next year he might not be quite the same.
If you’re Scott Boras, this is bad news. In fact, the timing probably couldn’t be worse. Keep in mind that nothing here is set yet; I’m merely talking in terms of IF Matt Wieters needs this procedure done. IF, and that’s a big IF. However hypothetically speaking let’s say the surgery route is taken and Wieters begins his rehab. My recommendation to the Orioles would be to extend Wieters either during the season (given the fact that he won’t be focusing on playing), or during the off season.
Granted, nobody is going to give Scott Boras the money that he probably wants for Wieters if he has a procedure like Tommy Johns.
However in my opinion it would behoove Dan Duquette to attempt to work some sort of long-term deal out for Wieters right now – while the Orioles are still the only team allowed to negotiate with him. Boras would have to know that other teams are going to balk on a catcher coming off of a procedure like that in terms of money and years. So would it not behoove him to accept a reasonable offer that Dan Duquette might make?
The flip side is that the Orioles would be taking a chance on a catcher that would be coming off of Tommy Johns. However I would submit that it would be a calculated and educated risk for the team to take. The Orioles know what a healthy Matt Wieters brings to the table. They’ve experienced it first hand. Again, is it a risk? Without a doubt, and in fact I suspect that if he didn’t come back as good as before they’d probably be lambasted by the national media and the fans for the signing. But it’s a risk worth taking – that is if Mr. Boras is in a reasonable mood.
This type of arrangement would give Boras/Wieters what they want in a contract, and it would probably keep Wieters in an Oriole uniform at a cheaper price than it otherwise would have cost. I maintain that one way or the other the backlash from fans if Wieters walks away would be pretty brutal – especially if he walks but remains in the AL East. So why not take a less-than-desirable situation and use it to your advantage?