It’s the rumor that just won’t die, even if it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Washington Nationals. FanRagSports.com’s Jon Heyman wrote this morning that the Nationals remain in the mix for free agent catcher Matt Wieters even after the Nats added catcher Derek Norris to the mix along with Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino in a trade with the San Diego Padres earlier this winter.
“The Nationals have joined at least the Braves in what could turn out to be an NL East battle for free agent catcher Matt Wieters,” Heyman writes, citing “league sources”:
“Washington is said to be looking into whether Wieters, a career-long Oriole, can fit into their budget. They lost some power with the defection of catcher Wilson Ramos and trade of shortstop Danny Espinosa, so Wieters could make up for that.”
Noting that the Nationals made an offer, which he writes is believed to have been in the $85M range, to closer Kenley Jansen before the right-hander returned to the LA Dodgers, Heyman writes that the Nats, “... would appear to have some money left in their budget.”
Even after adding Norris, Heyman notes that the Nationals, “... still seem to looking at catching alternatives, including Wieters, who has played his whole career in Baltimore on the other side of the Beltway.”
Heyman mentions Atlanta’s Braves as another team with interest and lists the New York Mets, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks that could make sense as suitors for Wieters.
Heyman is not the only one whose sources have been telling him such things, of course.
MASNSports.com reporter Roch Kubatko reported in early December, after the trade for Norris, that Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo might still be looking to add a catcher:
“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.”
Indirectly responding to that report, The Washington Post’s beat reporter, Chelsea Janes, wrote on Twitter 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
Wieters, 30, 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.
Could the Nats sign Wieters and trade Norris, as Kubatko suggested, or potentially deal Lobaton, 32, who is signed for this season at $1.575M and due to become a free agent next winter, or Severino, 23, who is likely the most attractive of the three for teams in the market for a young catcher?