Even after the Washington Nationals acquired Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres earlier this month, MASNSports.com reporter Roch Kubatko reported that Mike Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office might still be looking to add a catcher.
It seemed like Norris gave the Nationals the everyday backstop they were after with Wilson Ramos leaving via free agency, but, “Not so fast,” Kubatko wrote:
“There’s a sense in the industry that the Nationals will pursue [Matt] Wieters and flip Norris if they get him. Norris is a nice fallback option. It’s the proactive approach.”
Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes wrote on Twitter, however, that from what she was hearing at the time, the Nationals weren’t considering Wieters as an option:
On another note, Nationals not after Wieters, and do not plan to flip Norris. They don't expect him to be Ramos, but see value there.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 5, 2016
Kubatko is apparently not the only one hearing that the Nationals might make a play for Wieters, 30, who is coming off a .243/.302/.409, 17 double, 17 home run, 1.7 FWAR campaign in his eighth season with the Baltimore Orioles, who drafted him 5th overall in the first round of the 2007 Draft.
When Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, spoke to reporters earlier this month at the 2016 Winter Meetings in National Harbor, MD, he said he thought the market for his client might be slow to develop.
“The clubs that need catching are pretty well defined,” Boras said, as quoted by Baltimore Sun writer Eduardo A. Encina.
“Some are thinking about moving players to make room for him, so the timetable always on catching, I don’t know what it is; it’s always been -- I can’t think of one I’ve represented that didn’t sign in January, but they do.”
In spite of the fact that Norris struggled at the plate last season, Rizzo talked about the veteran catcher as a candidate for a bounce-back after acquiring the 27-year-old backstop.
“The skill set, when evaluated, the skill set is still there,” Rizzo said.
“We like his approach at the plate. He’s got a simple hitting approach that we feel that we’ve dealt with before, we’ve got a history with him. We know what makes him tick.
“We know what motivated him and helped him in the past.”
“Good pitch caller,” Rizzo continued. “He’s become a really good pitch framer and a guy that we believe, again, is going to have a good bounce-back season.”
Will the Nationals actually sign Wieters to the rumored 3-or-4-year deal he’s said to be after this winter when they already have Norris, a capable backup in Jose Lobaton and a young catcher in Pedro Severino, who Rizzo described recently as being the catcher of the future in Washington as recently as last weekend?
Is this all just a result of the long-standing Boras/Nationals relationship making people think he’ll end up in D.C.?