BALTIMORE— All-Star catcher Matt Wieters has accepted the Orioles’ $15.8 million qualifying offer, forgoing free agency to remain in Baltimore at least one more year.
As expected, slugger Chris Davis and pitcher Wei-Yin Chen declined their qualifying offers as they are both expected to get serious pay raises on the open market. Baltimore will get two compensatory draft picks as a result. Wieters, who is coming off a shortened season as he returned from Tommy John surgery, had been a bit of a question mark. His agent Scott Boras, said Wieters was still deciding in the days leading up to Friday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline as there was thought that perhaps Wieters would take a one-year deal and try to up his stock.
“I prayed a lot,” said Wieters of the decision, which became public news Friday afternoon. “One of the options that kept coming up was going back to Baltimore, where I can be comfortable with the [coaching] staff, with the pitching staff and the locker room, which has such a great feel, and the city. My wife and son they both love Baltimore….we decided to take a little bit of a different approach as far as not taking a multi-year deal [and entering free agency.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the Mid-Atlantic Sports Report on Thursday that the hope was Wieters accepted the qualifying offer and the two sides worked toward a multi-year deal, though there was no word on that Friday. Wieters said he hadn’t heard any talk of anything beyond a 2016 contact.
“I just made a decision to be a one year deal, I don’t know how all of that will play out,” he said. “Last year, didn’t know what was quite going to happen going into last year and one thing that made the decision easier is if it does end up a one-year deal, I’ll know how that goes in Baltimore and all the range of emotions that goes through a year. And Baltimore is a great place to come back to.”
In 75 games played this season, Wieters posted a .267/.319/.422 line, including eight homers and 25 RBIs. The 29-year-old appeared in 55 games as catcher and was brought along cautiously as the O’s tried to space out his starts behind the plate to keep him healthy. He played in 26 games in 2014 before undergoing season-ending surgery. In parts of seven seasons in the Majors, Wieters owns a career .258/.320/.423 line.
“It was something I was leaning to for most of the week,” Wieters said of accepting the offer, “and just nothing ever really made me sway from that decision of coming to Baltimore.”
With Wieters staying, adding another catcher becomes less of a priority for a Baltimore club that also has Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger.
As for Chen and Davis, Chen remains the least likely to make a return to Baltimore. As Boras referenced earlier in the week, an in-season demotion to the Minor Leagues —that was purely a move for roster management— didn’t sit well with Chen. He’s also expected to get a hefty pay increase as one of the best starters in the second tier of available pitchers and its unlikely the O’s would commit to that.
Davis, who lead the Majors in home runs, is expected to get a monster pay increase but the Orioles are much more open to shelling out cash to keep him. Boras, who intends to market Davis as both an infielder and an outfielder this winter, is well-known for getting his clients record-breaking deals and the 29-year-old Davis has some coveted power. Baltimore will have to likely step outside of its financial comfort zone to be a serious player for Davis.