Where will the Nationals find their next catcher?:
In an MLB Network Radio interview on Sunday afternoon, Scott Boras suggested that his client, Matt Wieters, was unique among free agent catchers available this winter.
General Managers around the league will likely hear a version of this speech when they inquire about the veteran backstop.
Wieters accepted the Baltimore Orioles’ 1-year/$15.8M qualifying offer last winter after he returned to action following Tommy John surgery in 2014.
With a full season under his belt, Wieters is headed back to the free agent market in what his agent sees as a truly unique position.
“Well, certainly when you think of catching... I went back and I was thinking, well, you know, this is a rare time, because sometimes we have catchers who can put up some pretty good offensive numbers and then we have catchers that are Gold Glove catchers, but rarely do you have the mix,” Boras said.
“And having a multiple 20-HR, multiple Gold Glove catcher on the market place, I started thinking when is the last time we had that? And the actual last time that we have was when Pudge [Rodriguez] was a free agent. So it’s really been that long. You really have got back to the early 2000s.”
Wieters, 30, is coming off a .243/.302/.409, 17 double, 17 HR, 1.7 fWAR season for the O’s, in which he threw out 35% of would-be base stealers and posted a .988 fld%.
Boras said it wasn’t until late this season that he saw the catcher back to where he was before Tommy John.
“In August and September, Matt Wieters had returned to the level that he had had in the past where he was someone who could make the quick flip-throw, he could adjust his feet. It was a rhythm and more importantly, it was not a thought of procedure, it was just a reactive procedure cause he had regained the confidence of now being healthy.”
Before the season ended, and after veteran Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos went down with the second significant injury to his right knee, Jon Heyman wrote in his column, Today’s Knuckleball, that Wieters could be a free agent target of interest when Washington looks at the market for backstops this winter.
Over at MLB.com this weekend, former major league GM Jim Duquette too wrote in a column of bold predictions, that a “contending team like the Nats can't take a chance on [the] kind of uncertainty,” that comes with bringing Ramos back and hoping that he’s healthy, so, he predicted, “... they will move on to either sign free agent Matt Wieters or trade for [Brian] McCann from the Yankees.”
For what it’s worth, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing Ramos back when he spoke to reporters for the first time since the season ended two weeks back.
“We’re going to see what the short-term rehab is,” Rizzo said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman:
“We’ll do all the due diligence on the medicals, which is the most important factor in what our plans are for Wilson. Once we get together with all the medical people that are involved, we’ll have a better idea of where we’re at with Wilson. Then we’ll employ a strategy that best fits our needs and the need to improve the ballclub in any way we can.”
Will a contending team like the Nationals go with a young catcher like Pedro Severino behind the plate and let him grow into the role?
Can they afford to take a chance and hope that he develops into an everyday catcher in the majors or will they add a veteran to bridge the gap until Severino or another of their prospects is ready?
Duquette, in his MLB.com column, also suggested that left-handed free agent closer Aroldis Chapman could ended up in D.C., and mentioned Wade Davis as a potential target as the Nationals look to add an arm to the back end of their bullpen.
Will GM Mike Rizzo and Co. bring Mark Melancon back to Washington?
Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes reported this past week that the Nationals will be one of many teams at former Kansas City Royals’ closer Greg Holland’s workout this week:
Nationals will send someone to see former Royals closer Greg Holland's showcase, person familiar with their plans said. No surprise.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) November 5, 2016
Will the Nationals sign a closer who missed the entire 2016 as he recovered from Tommy John and slot him into the ninth-inning role? Will the Nationals bring back Melancon?
Will Rizzo and Co. finally get Aroldis Chapman after pursuing him a number of times over the last few seasons?
It’s Hot Stove time...