The rumors have been circulating for months, but on Tuesday the Washington Nationals signed former Orioles catcher, Matt Wieters, to a 2-year, $21 million deal.
The departure of Wieters does not come as a surprise since the Orioles decided not to pursue the eight year veteran going into the offseason. The Welington Castillo deal back in December only confirmed this. Since then Orioles fans in Baltimore have been reluctantly expecting the news of Wieters’ departure.
After being drafted by the Orioles as the fifth overall pick in 2007 draft, Wieters received mixed opinions from fans and analysts throughout his career. Coming out of the draft, he was always promoted as the next big catcher. He received comparisons to Hall of fame-level players and garnered the nickname “Mauer with power,” a reference to Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer.
These over-the-top comments cast an unfair shadow over Wieters. He was a great catcher with the Orioles, but he was never going to be like the once in a lifetime players that he gained comparisons to.
During his tenure in Baltimore, Wieters was a four-time All Star and won two Gold Gloves in 2011 and 2012 seasons. During the 2014 season Wieters suffered a major right elbow injury that would end up changing the outlook of his career. He only played 26 games that season and then just 75 game the following year after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
In the 2015-16 offseason Wieters became just the second player in history to accept a qualifying offer. Last season Wieters played in 124 games, batting.243/.302/.409, and earned his fourth All Star nomination. This return to form allowed Wieters to step back into the free agent spotlight in 2017.
The 2-year deal with Washington is far from a blockbuster but it is certainly a good fit for both parties. The Nationals have had their eye on Wieters since Wilson Ramos, their longtime catcher, signed with Tampa Bay earlier this offseason.