Orioles Sign New Catcher, Could Spell Trouble For Wieters

May 24, 2014 | Brandon Sacks

It was fairly well known that the Orioles were in the market for another catcher.  It was pretty much expected that this catcher was going to replace Caleb Joseph in the depth chart.  Most people believed that this new catcher would be backing up Steve Clevenger.  However, this was not exactly the case.

Before the third game in the series against the Indians, the birds announced a trade with the San Diego Padres.  In exchange for Troy Patton, the Orioles received catcher Nick Hundley and cash considerations.  That’s right.  The Orioles just traded for a starting catcher.

Troy Patton served a 25 game suspension at the beginning of the season for testing positive for amphetamines.  Since coming off his suspension, he made 9 appearances in the orange and black.  He allowed four walks and picked up five strikeouts while only pitching 6.2 innings to an ERA of 8.10 and a WHIP of 1.950.

In exchange for Patton, the Orioles picked up Nick Hundley.  In his seven years with the Padres, he has caught 27.7% of runners trying to steal a base, which is around the league average.  As a comparison, Wieters has caught 32.5% of runners in his seven years with the Orioles.  Hundley has only committed five more errors than Wieters during that span.

Here is the problem.  Wieters is scheduled to come off the 15-day DL on May 26, but does not look like he is ready to come off immediately.  That would be fine, but the Orioles already had two catchers on their roster.  If they had signed another catcher to simply replace Joseph, that would have just been seen as a simple transaction.  The issue is that the birds traded for a starter in the last year of his contract.  This might signal that there is a serious problem with Wieters’ elbow that could keep him out of the game much longer.

Wieters has been resting his elbow for the past two weeks in order to try and avoid surgery.  A few days ago, Wieters received a platelet rich plasma injection, which is normally given to pitchers that are trying to avoid Tommy John surgery.  Putting these two parts together, Wieters could very well be heading to getting the surgery, which would end his season.  If he were to get this surgery, it would be a huge loss for the Orioles.  Wieters has hit over 20 home runs in each of the past three seasons.  The birds will lose a serious power threat if he ends up getting season ending surgery.

While the Orioles will once again have a starting catcher behind the plate, it seems like there are some more serious problems at hand.  Hopefully this trade is just to unload a pitcher that could not do his job rather than to pick up someone for damage control.

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