Carlos Santana. Matt Moore. Elvis Andrus. Jonathan Niese.
What do those players have in common? They are all young, rising stars in baseball who were given contracts well before their free agency became a story.
Dan Duquette has been handed a very difficult job in Baltimore, but he can take a big step towards solving the issues at hand by erasing a future one.
It’s time for Matt Wieters to sign a long-term contract with the Baltimore Orioles. No, he’s not a free agent anytime soon — the 2011 All-Star catcher isn’t set to hit the open market until 2016 — and still has a full year before even becoming arbitration eligible. There is no pressing need to get a deal done, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a priority. In fact, a contract offer could go a long way to mending the mistake Baltimore made this off-season by renewing his contract at their price.
“They have the right to offer any contract they want,” Wieters said. “That’s their right. I’m just ready to play baseball.”
John Hart — the former Cleveland Indians general manager — created an organizational structure in the late 90’s that helped make that franchise a power for years. His philosophy — now copied by almost every successful executive — centered on locking up young, talented players to long-term deals before they “deserved” it. In other words, Hart would project out their career and offer them a team-friendly deal, but considerably more than the player was making in the moment.
Arbitration is fickle thing in baseball. No team truly wants to be a part of the process because of the adverse effects on the player-ownership relationship. The Orioles may or may not send out press releases pertaining to all the hearings they have won in the Peter Angelos era, but don’t mistake that for an enjoyment of the process. Offering Wieters a deal now can help both parties avoid the headache that is surely to arise over the next three off-seasons.
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