In his first season playing for a team other than the Baltimore Orioles who drafted and developed him, veteran catcher Matt Wieters put up a .225/.288/.344 line, 20 doubles, and 10 home runs in 123 games and 465 plate appearances for the Washington Nationals in 2017, over which the 31-year-old backstop was worth a career-low -0.2 fWAR.
Defensively, Wieters posted a .993 fld%, allowed five passed balls (two more than he allowed in the previous three seasons combined), threw out 19 of 76 base stealers (25% caught stealing %), and committed eight errors, one fielding and seven throwing.
Wieters signed a 1-year/$10.5M free agent deal with the Nats late last Spring that included a $10.5M player option for 2018, though the initial thinking was that he’d likely opt to become a free agent again if he had big season in D.C.
When he struggled at the plate after a strong start to the 2017 campaign, it seemed more likely that he would exercise the option and return to the Nationals.
According to a report by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand this afternoon, that’s what Wieters intends to do:
Source: Matt Wieters intends to exercise his $10.5 million player option for 2018, remain with Nationals.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 3, 2017
Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes reported that she too heard Wieters would exercise the option, though she later noted that it’s not a done deal:
Have heard Matt Wieters’s plan is to exercise $10.5 mil option for 2018, according to person familiar with his thinking, as @Feinsand said.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) November 3, 2017
Will the Nationals look to upgrade their catcher corps for the 2018 campaign? Backup catcher Jose Lobaton became a free agent yesterday after putting up a .170/.248/.277 line with three doubles and four home runs in 51 games and 158 plate appearances as Wieters’ backup.
Nationals’ prospect Pedro Severino was touted as the Nats’ catcher of the future by GM Mike Rizzo last Spring.
The 24-year-old put up a .242/.291/.332 line with four doubles and five home runs in 59 games and 227 PAs for Triple-A Syracuse in 2017, and he made 17 appearances in the majors, going 5 for 29 with the Nationals.
Raudy Read, 24, and the top-ranked catcher in the Nationals’ system on both Baseball America and MLB.com’s lists after the 2017 campaign, put up a .265/.312/.455 line with 25 doubles and 17 home runs in 108 games and 442 plate appearances at Double-A and was called up to the majors in September to make his MLB debut.
Will Severino or Read end up as Wieters’ backup if Lobaton signs elsewhere? Does a team with big expectations like the Nationals have need to upgrade their catching corps?
NOTE: According to a subsequent report by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Wieters’ agent Scott Boras said the catcher is still weighing his options:
Scott Boras said Wieters is still weighing his options re: option. “What he does for a pitching staff is off the charts & in great demand."— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 3, 2017