Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A Rays deal with Matt Wieters makes sense — at the right price

PORT CHARLOTTE — There are several things we know about the Rays' interest in Matt Wieters, the former Orioles star catcher who surprisingly — check mlbtraderumors.com — yep, remains unsigned as camps open:

First, and most important, is the Rays are serious enough to have made an offer, likely for one year and certainly for millions of dollars less than what Wieters and agent Scott Boras are seeking.

Another is they believe they provide a great fit for Wieters. With the Rays, Wieters, 30, would have the chance to be the primary catcher but wouldn't be overused and have designated-hitter at-bats available; to stay in the familiar American League East (with 19 dates for potential revenge versus the O's); to sign a one-year deal for the opportunity to build value for a 2018 run at free agency in which he would have the benefit of/credit for catching a really good staff; and to play close to his Atlanta-area home, with the usual Florida tax benefits.

Also, the Rays could use him.

Wieters has his flaws, including poor pitch-framing. But his experience handling pitchers, his reputation for strong defensive skills and his ability to hit homers from both sides of the plate make him a considerable upgrade from the trio of Curt Casali, Luke Maile and Jesus Sucre the Rays will be using until/if Wilson Ramos recovers enough from offseason knee surgery to get behind the plate come July or later.

But here's the big thing neither we nor the Rays know:

How willing is Wieters to take their offer — even if creativity and incentives could push it past $10 million — and get into camp versus waiting to see if Boras can still find the tens of millions they were expecting going into free agency?

Boras is quite good at his job, and he has done this before, taking players late into the spring and then cashing in on multiyear deals that seemed unlikely, if not shocking.

He also has done a considerable amount of business, sometimes going straight to ownership, with several teams that might also be interested in Wieters, such as the Angels, Brewers and Nationals. (The O's say they're not, though some wonder.)

Wieters made $15.8 million with the Orioles last season, when he hit .243 with 17 homers and 66 RBIs, and a .711 OPS, improving after a slow start in his first full season following 2014 Tommy John elbow surgery.

Boras shared with Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal some of the data points he is using to sell teams on Wieters, including a to-date comparison to Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk.

More skeptical types have pointed out Wieters' statistics are better compared to the much more pedestrian Jason Castro, though Castro's $27.5 million, three-year deal with the Twins must look pretty good to Wieters right now.

The Rays are not going to offer Wieters the most money, certainly not more than the team-record $14 million they paid David Price in 2014, or the $13 million Evan Longoria will make this season, or likely not even the $10 million Carl Crawford got in 2010. Wieters isn't that, and he won't make that much difference.

The Rays hope that Wieters is getting antsy sitting at home, that he's willing to bet on himself to have a good year and cash in (think Ian Desmond in 2016), that he will see the value in what they have to offer rather than the money they are willing to pay him.

If so, they'll get Wieters' relatively big bat to boost a lineup missing Logan Forsythe, plus the benefit of his experience behind the plate, and his leadership and motivation. If they're in the playoff race, they can keep Wieters for the full year and eventually have him share time at catcher and DH with Ramos. If they're not, they can trade Wieters and recoup some of their investment.

For the Rays, there are lots of reasons a deal with Wieters makes sense. Just as long as it doesn't cost too many dollars.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

A Rays deal with Matt Wieters makes sense — at the right price 02/15/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies part of a record-setting season for USL attendance

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — Although Rowdies fans haven't had many recent opportunities to show out at Al Lang, the United Soccer League turnstiles keep turning at a record rate.

    A Rowdies fan waves flags ahead of the first half of the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and Orlando City B at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
  2. 'Deadliest Catch' captain talks reality TV, Snoop Dogg and Tampa Bay

    Outdoors

    Keith Colburn is best known as captain of the Wizard on the Discovery Network series Deadliest Catch. Colburn and crew go to battle in the Bering Sea working one of the deadliest jobs in America. A seasoned veteran, Keith has filmed 11 seasons of the show and is still going strong with his relief captain …

    Captain Keith Colburn is seen in this undated photo courtesy of the Discovery Channel. Courtesy of the Discovery Channel
  3. HomeTeam 100: Players 51-60

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Wharton defensive back AJ Hampton will help lead the Wildcats into the 2017 season. Taken 7-6-17 by Scott Purks
  4. Rays series preview: Who are the Rangers?

    Blogs

    The road trip is done, but the Rays will still face a western team, as they tasks on the Rangers in a three-game series at Tropicana Field. Here's the information you need to know about Texas before the action kicks off.

    Record: 45-50, fourth in AL West

    Starter Tyson Ross, left, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, right, have struggled immensely this season.
  5. Checklist to help Bucs swagger into the postseason

    Bucs

    To boost their playoff prospects, the Bucs need to beat Atlanta at least once, as they did last year. Twice would be even nicer. (Loren Elliott, Times)