Obviously, the title says it all. This article may be hated by 100% of Orioles fans, but it is the most logical resolution for the present day and future state of the franchise. With his value at most likely a peak, Baltimore could currently receive a bat at a position of need (First Base, Third Base, Left Field) to replace his production in the lineup and a top of the rotation arm (on a side note, Ronny Paulino is nothing to write home about but a serviceable replacement defensively).
We know what Matt Wieters is; an above average defensive catcher, with an elite arm, a knack to call games and the ability to hit for power from both sides of the plate. But the reason to move the Gold Glover is not because of what he can do; it is because of what he cannot do.
Wieters will never hit .300 and will never have 40 home runs in a season; he simply is not the elite hitter everyone projected him to be coming out of Georgia Tech. Though he has showed ability at the plate, he does not fit the Orioles needs as a middle of the order bat. Even with the luxury of hitting behind Adam Jones, Weiters has struggled to produce in the heart of the lineup. Charles Johnson was another great defensive catcher, with a decent bat, but none of the seven teams he played for (including the Orioles) felt he was a building block of the franchise.
The other problem lies in his future at the catcher position. How many times has Joe Mauer’s name been mentioned this season (outside of Minnesota and Head and Shoulder’s commercials)? Mauer was once considered one of, if not the best, players in baseball just a couple years ago. Now, with his injury history, his career may be derailed forever.
Most Orioles fans already understand the durability issues Wieters may face as a catcher, which magnifies even greater because of his large frame. Talks have already begun about moving him to one of the corner infield positions or possibly even left field, which in turn nullifies the skill set that sets him apart from the average player; his ability to control runners on the bases and call a game for a young pitching staff.
Will Joe Mauer’s present day issues be the same fate for Wieters? That is not a guarantee, but it’s pretty safe to say that he is not putting up the MVP numbers Mauer did in 2009 to justify the risk.
Soon enough, Wieters will be up for a new contract; which will mean a handsome pay day for a switch hitter with a golden arm from home to second. Is it in the team’s best interest to dish out another massive contract for 6th hole hitter that will eventually be playing out of position? For a team on the verge of a playoff run for the first time since Jamie Moyer was in his early thirties, wasting money is certainly not an option. With the expanded playoff format, buyers for catching help will swarm at the chance for a 26 year old All-Star and Gold Glover, who still has arbitration years left before he hits free agency. Possible trade partners include:
1. Matt Wieters to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Pitcher James McDonald and Third Basemen Pedro Alvarez.
In return for Wieters, the Orioles receive a pitcher just entering his prime, who will fit in nicely in the rotation behind Hammel and Chen. They also replace his bat with a player with just as much upside, while having elite power from the left side of the plate, ideal for Camden Yards.
2. Matt Wieters to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Catcher Tim Federwitz, Utility Man Juan Rivera and Pitcher Chad Billingsley.
Tim Federwitz is the Dodgers top positional prospect and will be the eventual replacement for Wieters full time, while they also added a bat, in Rivera, who will produce similarly to his current pace. Billingsley is another young pitcher, who could use a new environment to get back to form, again filling in the third spot in the Orioles rotation.
3. Matt Wieters, Luis Ayala and Brian Matusz to the Los Angeles Angels for First Basemen Mark Trumbo and Pitcher Ervin Santana.
Though the Orioles have to give up extra parts to complete the trade, they have the bullpen depth to replace Ayala. In return, they receive an elite, middle of the order bat and what will be the most talented pitcher on their staff, in Santana.
Now, of course, if the team starts to falter in the playoff race, moving him for prospects is the logical options. Wieters is by far the team’s best bargaining chip besides the obvious untouchables (Adam Jones, Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado), and in return will bring back the best haul to improve the team for present day and the future. So even though the Orioles are currently playing at what is a record pace for anyone not old enough to own a driver’s license in the state of Maryland, the front office has plenty of work left to ensure the future stays a flight for the Birds.