By Matthew Jacobson
The Nationals have announced that they will be signing former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, pending a physical, to a two-year deal with an option for 2018. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the deal with pay Wieters 10 million dollars this season and $11 million next season if he returns.
Wieters has dealt with his fair share of injuries over his career, but is a 4 time all-star, as well as a 2 time gold-glover. His offensive production, while slightly dipping recently, could spark a Nationals offense that at times has fallen flat and has simply been unable to produce.
Following the acquisition of Derek Norris via trade, this seems rather puzzling, however this move would put the Nationals over the 40-man roster limit, and one would think that another move is coming, especially with the presence of Jose Lobaton and up-and-comer Pedro Severino. The Nationals will more than likely not carry 4 catchers during the course of the season, and it is likely that Severino begins in Triple-A.
The natural conclusion is that the Nationals will trade one of their catchers for help at the end of the bullpen. They lost out on big-money closers Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon in free agency, and have been looking to upgrade (or so I think) the closer position over the course of the entire offseason. With the acquisition of Wieters, a move is certain. Whether it’s for David Robertson, Alex Colome, or another name that Mike Rizzo decides to pull out of a hat (as he has done during his tenure as Nationals’ GM), we will soon find out.
This is not the kind of move that makes the Nationals World Series favorites, but it is another shrewd move (a la Daniel Murphy) that many while fans look at with a “bah, humbug” attitude, it is a low-risk, high-reward scenario that could pay dividends for both the Nationals this season, and Wieters going forward.