No qualifying offer to Wieters
Four-time All-Star catcher becomes a free agent; Trumbo receives an offer
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A year after catcher Matt Wieters surprised the Orioles by delaying his free agency for a year and taking the rare step of accepting a qualifying offer to stay in Baltimore, the team declined to give him an opportunity to do so again.
The club did not extend a qualifying offer to Wieters, 30, their four-time All-Star catcher and 2007 first-round pick, making him a free agent. The Orioles will not gain a draft pick as compensation should he leave for another team.
They did, however, assign a qualifying offer to right fielder-designated hitter Mark Trumbo, also 30, who led the major leagues with 47 home runs this season. If Trumbo accepts, he’ll be paid $17.2 million on a one-year contract in 2017. If he declines and chooses to test free agency for the first time in his career, the Orioles will get a compensatory pick at the end of the first round of the 2017 MLB draft.
The Orioles haven’t announced either decision, but industry sources confirmed each one after Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
The moves, which come five days after the end of the World Series, begin an offseason where the Orioles’ major pieces
of business come at the positions of the two players most affected by the qualifying offer system.
Unlike past offseasons, which have been defined by the team’s search for starting pitching, this year’s priorities will be defined by whether Trumbo and Wieters return or need to be replaced.
Despite not giving Wieters a qualifying offer, the team can still re-sign him as a free agent. But the free-agent catching market is thin this offseason.
Instead of making a transition that would have given a larger role to backup Caleb Joseph after the 2015 season, the Orioles extended a qualifying offer to Wieters, who at that point was still slowly rebuilding his game and value after Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2014.
Wieters and Joseph split time in 2015, but with the market not as high as some thought it should be for a catcher of his talent, Wieters decided to become one of three players to accept the qualifying offer for 2016 and remain with his respective club.
Despite a spring training scare, Wieters’ elbow was never a problem in 2016. He played 124 games this year, though he struggled at the plate. Wieters hit .243/ .302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs, and had several game-winning hits over the course of the season, but posted an OPS+ of 87, the lowest for any season in his career.
He joins a free-agent class of catchers that became thinner when the Washington Nationals’ Wilson Ramos tore his ACL on Sept. 26, and also includes Chris Ianetta and Nick Hundley. The Orioles are left with Joseph, who endured a miserable season, plus Francisco Pena, Audry Perez, and top prospect Chance Sisco as possible replacement options in their organization.
With Trumbo, the question becomes whether to accept the qualifying offer for another year in a ballpark and clubhouse that he quickly grew comfortable in or test the free-agent landscape. If he chooses the latter, he’ll be going to market on the heels of a career year during which he made his second All-Star team while posting a career high in home runs (47), RBIs (108), and OPS (.850).
His future is probably at first base or as a DH, as a full season in right field exposed some of his range limitations, but without Pedro Alvarez as the primary DH this season the Orioles could stand to bring him back in a role that plays more to Trumbo’s strengths.
His decision may not be a difficult one. As one of the premier power hitters in free agency, Trumbo could get an offer somewhere close to the $17.2 million figure on a multiyear contract from teams who can fit him onto their salary books and into their lineups.
However, as a player who was traded three times in two years by the time he joined the Orioles, Trumbo’s wish to stay in a place where he’s happy and successful could swing the balance in their direction.
In the absence of either, the Orioles have a few regular spots in the lineup that could be used to add a player with less swing-and-miss and more on-base capability than the players who are returning from one of the league’s most prolific but volatile offenses.
Trumbo has a week to inform the Orioles if he will accept the qualifying offer. receiver or Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback.
Their players have smaller reputations, but they’re capable of pulling off an upset, as they almost did against the Ravens in Week 2.
The big questions about the Ravens are still centered on their offense. They could muster only one offensive touchdown against the Steelers, who were ranked No. 27 in total defense. The Browns are worse, but there is nothing to prove that the Ravens can take advantage.
We’ve seen matchups like this before. The Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders entered their games against the Ravens with statistically poor defenses, but both won at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Browns don’t have a quarterback the caliber of the Redskins’ Kirk Cousins or the Raiders’ Derek Carr, but the Ravens might want to take a look at history. Nine years ago, Miami was in a similar situation as the Browns and the Ravens got squeezed by Lemon.
That loss left a sour taste in their mouths and became a major date in Ravens history.
Catcher Matt Wieters came back for the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2014.