Baltimore Orioles: Orioles Should Extend Qualifying Offer To Matt Wieters
Matt Wieters is heading to the free agent market, but should the Baltimore Orioles extend him a Qualifying Offer?
The Baltimore Orioles are about to lose their starting catcher Matt Wieters to free agency. And with Major League Baseball’s Qualifying Offer set for $17.2 Million, it’s almost tempting to offer Wieters the one-year deal.
Extending Wieters a qualifying offer makes sense; the free agency market is going to be scarce and with Wilson Ramos of the Washington Nationals out until the middle of next season, Wieters will be the top catcher in the open market
Of course there are downsides of offering Weiters the $17.2 Million. Wieters hasn’t produced much in the last three seasons to earn the coveted price-tag. In 124 games in 2016, Wieters hit .243/.302/.409 with 17 homers and 66 RBI’s. It’s also worth mentioning Wieters had a WAR of 1.7, which is slightly below league average.
Also, offering Wieters a new deal might not be possible. Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball announced the new Collective Bargaining Agreement would prevent players from accepting a Qualifying Offer two years in a row. However, with two weeks of postseason baseball remaining, it seems unlikely the new CBA will be completed by this offseason.
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If the Orioles offer Wieters a Qualifying Offer, it would guarantee the team a draft pick should he sign elsewhere. And if Wieters goes elsewhere, it would make Caleb Joseph the team’s No.1 catcher going into 2017. But if Wieters stays, he and Joseph could provide a bridge for catching prospect Chance Cisco.
Cisco had a .402 OBP in the minor leagues, but the Orioles want him to work on his defense. In 2016, Cisco only threw out 25% of runners attempting to steal.
If Wieters leaves, the Orioles discussed Nick Hundley as a possible alternative. Hundley worked well with the pitching staff, particularly Chris Tillman when Wieters underwent Tommy John Surgery. However, Hundley only threw out 14% of runners attempting to steal in 2016, and 19% of runners while he was with the Orioles. Despite that, Tillman is good at holding runners on base, which limits stolen bases.
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The Orioles surely wouldn’t mind having another year of Wieters and Joseph, and one of the ways to have it is to extend Wieters the Qualifying Offer. He accepted the deal following the 2015 season. Would he accept it a second time around?