Matt Wieters -- and his super agent Scott Boras -- has long insisted on receiving "Joe Mauer money" on either an extension or his first free agent deal. That this has lead to yet another impasse between the catcher, who is making $7.7 million on a one-year deal, and the Orioles should surprise no one. However, unlike in previous seasons, it now appears that the gap between the two sides has become so great that they aren't even bothering with the dog and pony show of spring training contract negotiations according to a column by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.
Beyond the gap in perceived market value of the backstop between the two sides, the O's have already committed significant resources to OF Adam Jones, who is in the second of a seven-year contract worth 91 million dollars which locks up the three-time All-Star through 2018. They also have to concern themselves with resigning All-Star slugger Chris Davis as well as upcoming contracts for prominent young players like SS/3B Manny Machado. This, coupled with signings like Ubaldo Jimenez -- and according to Heyman, interest in free agent slugger Kendry Morales -- looks like they will leave Wieters the odd man out from the O's Dan Duquette-led gold rush.
While catchers may be worth their weight in gold, with such a talented young squad -- and specifically up-the-middle players like Jones and (eventually) Machado -- it appears, according to Ken Rosenthal's Twitter (and MLB Trade Rumors) that the O's may be willing to sacrifice Wieters 20 HRs a season if the right deal comes along for a replacement.
Wieters hasn't let any of this bother him, though, telling Heyman ""I love being on this club, and until someone gives me a call, I'm going to look forward to coming to this clubhouse." In fact, according to Wieters, he unsurprisingly lets Boras worry about contract details, saying, ""I've completely put everything on the back burner. Scott will come to me. And I will pray about it, and God will lead me to where to go. Me, I'm just going to worry about playing baseball."
That's probably for the best, as the catcher, who turns 28 in May of this year hasn't hit above .265 since the .288 he posted in his rookie year. He's also seen his Slugging and On-Base percentages drop over the last two seasons, though the drop has coincided with two consecutive Gold Gloves and even some MVP votes in 2012 season. It's this schism between the inherent value of the position, his defensive prowess, and his shaky-at-best offensive production that has lead to the now years-long disagreement between the two sides that has finally reached a head.
So, while it's hard to calculate what his exact value will be, it's clear that we won't be finding out this year, or at least not in any scenario that involves Wieters being an Oriole at the end of this season.