Last night the news broke that free agent catcher Brian McCann (who turns 30 in February) had signed a five year, $85 million contract with the New York Yankees. McCann, a former Atlanta Brave, is now the third “big-time catcher” in the AL East – assuming that Boston resigns Jarrod Saltalamacchia that is. On the surface this obviously is a tough pill to swallow for the Orioles, given that it makes a division rival much stronger. McCann is a great catcher, and while Matt Wieters still appears to be the best catcher in the division (if not the American League), this is something that definitely makes the Yankees stronger. However speaking of Wieters, does this assist the Orioles in another department by chance?
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The past few weeks have been littered with rumors that the Orioles might consider trading Wieters so as to get something in return for him. For quite some time, it was presumed that when Wieters hit the open market the likes of New York and Boston would be two teams in the running for his services. Now that New York has locked up it’s catcher position for the next five years, they’re off the board. The move had to come as an unpleasant surprise to Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, who’s pretty “tight” with the Yankees. If he was thinking that he could simply name his price and the Yankees would jump, he was obviously seriously mistaken.
Keep in mind that there are still other teams (Boston, Washington, and Texas to name a few) with deep pockets and a friendly relationship with Boras out there. But the fact that one of the big dogs is now off the board in terms of signing Wieters when the time comes bodes well for the Orioles in terms of keeping Wieters. Interestingly enough, it was reported back in October that the Orioles liked McCann, and that he might be a guy on their radar if Wieters suddenly was no longer around. One has to wonder, was this a preemptive move by New York?!
The issue of course is not so much that the Orioles won’t be able to afford Wieters as it is that Boras seems to never allow his clients to sign extensions while they’re under contract. Furthermore Boras plays favorites, and the Orioles are probably lukewarm at best on that list. So the day after Wieters would become a free agent in the autumn of 2015, Boras might just pick up
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the phone and call one of the aforementioned teams and have a big time deal done before the Orioles even would have had a chance. This is another debate for another day of course, however this is why the O’s were considering not even trying to keep one of their own – they may not have the chance to do so.
Looking at this from another standpoint, perhaps the Orioles could find a trading partner in Atlanta if they’re intent on getting something from Wieters. All of that’ is up in the air now, however I maintain that the Yankees being off the board in the would-be Wieters sweepstakes bodes well for the Orioles keeping him. And I’m on record as saying that the Baltimore Orioles would be foolish to not publically do everything in their power and then some to ensure that Wieters is on the team for the foreseeable future.