This could be my “I told you so moment;” well maybe it is a little. But the Orioles have finally decided to make the smart business decision and consider trading away catcher, Matt Wieters. I have been reporting for years that move would be in their best interest (found here and here and here; yeah I’ve talked about it a lot). The “Mauer with Power” aura has left Camden Yards and the fan base seems to be finally on board to move on from the once top prospect in baseball.
Though good defensively, he does not offer enough at the plate; except for the occasional untimely Home Run. Wieters has an excellent arm, controlling runners on the base path, but is not mobile enough to consistently block bad pitches and pop out of his stance to snag tough foul balls. Questions have arisen over the years on how long he could even last at catcher because of his large frame. He’s not half the athlete of Minnesota Twins, Joe Mauer (a top QB recruit coming out of high school), who has been forced to move to first base this season.
So there is my spiel on why to move on from the former Gold-Glover, but most have already seen that over the past two seasons (and called me an idiot for saying so). Now let’s look into possible trade partners for Wieters, who is a Scott Boras client, meaning a team will have to pony up to extend him beyond this season.
Though Matt Wieters trade value is now at an all-time low for his career (unlike a year ago, when I first started this campaign), he is still an upper-echelon catcher, compared to what is available. The Orioles should be able to at least get either an every day player or starting pitcher in return in any deal. But after Texas traded 2B, Ian Kinsler (who would have been an ideal fit with the hole at the position for the Orioles) to the Detroit Tigers, for 1B, Prince Fielder, there is one less option in the pool for Dan Duquette.
Matt Wieters to the Los Angeles Angels for OF/1B/DH Mark Trumbo.
Both teams would benefit greatly from this swap, as the Orioles sorely need a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lineup and the Angels get an excellent game-caller to help along their porous pitching issues. The Angels will also save money in the long term, because they will be line to extend Trumbo and OF, Mike Trout (who is the best all-around player in baseball), within a 12 month span.
In acquiring Trumbo, he is not set to hit free agency until 2017, giving the team control for several years, while their core still in their prime (and set to make a World Series push). Trumbo offers the Orioles more financial flexibility in the near future; something Peter Angelos surely would sign off on. He is also a power hitter from the right side of the plate, while being able to fill in holes in either LF or DH (and possibly playing the occasional first base to rest Chris Davis).
Matt Wieters to the Chicago Cubs for SP Jeff Samardzija
The Cubs are another team in desperate need of a back stop to control the game behind the plate. Add in the direction of their front office (with Theo Henry’s track record of trades) and they have the funds and means to re-up Wieters contract. Chicago has already expressed willingness to move on from their No. 1 starter (with trade rumors with the Diamondbacks), in order to upgrade their lineup and defense. Though Wieters is not a good hitter, he is still an upgrade over Wellington Castillo (the only catcher on their roster), with his power numbers and ability to bat from both sides of the plate.
In Samardzija, the Orioles are not exactly getting back the ace they desperately need, but a pitcher who is willing to be a stopper every fifth day. Though he struggled in the second half last season, he has proven to hold his own against some of the better pitchers in the NL. He is also in the last year of his contract, so any deal will include a sign-and-trade, which could lock up the starter for the next several years.
Matt Wieters to the Seattle Mariners for SP Erasmo Ramirez and Prospect(s)
The Mariners may have the worst catching situation in the entire MLB, with the failed experiment of Jesus Montero behind the plate. They are left with a plethora of young talented pitchers (including former Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez), including several prospects ready to break through in the big leagues. Though the Mariners have Mark Zunino (a top catching prospect) making his way to the majors, he could develop behind Wieters for the next couple of seasons, until the Baltimore catcher needs to be moved from behind the plate.
In return, Baltimore is receiving a highly touted pitching prospect, who is the most Major-League ready in their organization. He struggled this past season but at only 23, has plenty of growth in the big-leagues awaiting him. Ramirez will be under team control for several seasons, adding into the young starting core of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. The Mariners may need to add in another low-end prospect or two to make the deal fair.