ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick mentions the Cincinnati Reds as a possible destination for Matt Wieters, the 30 year-old catcher who has spent the last eight seasons (his entire career) with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s not clear whether the Reds are actually engaged in active discussions with Wieters, or if this is just some “MLB insider” who sees the Reds as a good fit.
Wieters, of course, has had a fairly successful run with the Orioles, making four American League All-Star teams, and winning two Gold Gloves. He was about a two-WAR player last year, hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 HR (.307 wOBA). The numbers show that his defense has slipped somewhat from his peak, but that he’s still an effective defender at catcher.
Wieters is probably better than Tucker Barnhart, though he’s not the player he once was. The Orioles have acknowledged as much by not making a serious attempt to re-sign him:
Will the Reds be willing to spend cash to get a one-year upgrade at catcher? It doesn’t make much sense to me. Wieters is reportedly willing to sign a one-year deal, and at any rate, I can’t imagine the Reds ponying up money for a multi-year deal for a 30 year-old catcher anyway.
The Reds are a new name in the mix, and their interest in Wieters or any other established catcher hinges on Devin Mesoraco’s health. Mesoraco underwent hip surgery last summer and was scheduled to begin catching drills around this point in January, so more should be known about his injury situation in the next few weeks. Since signing a four-year, $28MM extension after the 2014 season, Mesoraco has barely been able to get onto the field, playing just 39 games total in 2015-16 due to shoulder surgery and procedures on both his left and right hips. Tucker Barnhart handled most of the work last year in Mesoraco’s absence, hitting .257/.323/.379 in 420 PA and posting strong blocking numbers according to Baseball Prospectus, though both BP and StatCorner rank Barnhart as a below-average pitch framer. Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner is the only other catcher on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.
I guess the only way this makes any sense at all is if the Reds think Mesoraco isn’t going to be ready for the first month or two of the 2017 season. The Reds could sign Wieters to a one-year contract, with the idea that they could always flip him at the trade deadline.
I dunno. If I squint hard enough, I can kinda see how this makes sense for the Reds. What am I missing?