The news isn't entirely unexpected since Wieters was shelved with a tear in his right UCL in early May. The Orioles and Wieters initially tried to rest and rehab the injury in hopes the 28-year-old would be able to return sometime this season.
That approach has proven unsuccessful, however, with the Georgia Tech product choosing to opt for surgery, which should enable him to be fully ready by next spring. Rehab from Tommy John surgery is generally shorter for position players, of course, and Wieters will likely need nine months before his arm is completely healthy once again.
A two-time All-Star, Wieters played in just 26 games in 2014, batting .308/.339/.500 with five home runs and 10 extra-base hits. He was coming off a 2013 campaign in which his on-base percentage dropped to a career-low .287, though he still belted 22 home runs. Coming into this year, Wieters had hit more than 20 home runs in three straight seasons.
Despite his down 2013, losing Wieters has a big impact on Baltimore's outlook. The team sits 4½ games behind the Blue Jays for the AL East lead and is just one game back from the Royals for the AL's second wild-card spot.
The Orioles have already added to their depth at catcher when they traded for Nick Hundley on May 24. The 30-year-old Hundley hasn't given Baltimore much production, however, hitting just .147/.184/.147 in 38 plate appearances since the trade.
Without Wieters, the Orioles have had to turn to a trio of Hundley, Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger, none of whom has the talent or experience that Wieters has. In fact, Baltimore backstops have posted a below-average .656 OPS this season and have hit .238/.291/.365, ranking in the bottom 10 in most offensive categories. Since Wieters landed on the DL, the Orioles have gone 15-19.
Losing Wieters is clearly unfortunate for Baltimore, then, and unless Hundley's production improves, the club has few appealing options to turn to at catcher. With the Orioles still in playoff contention, that could pose a problem as the season goes on, and one imagines GM Dan Duquette will need to find a solution if the Orioles want to give themselves the best chance of playing in October.
Having Wieters back in 2015 will surely be a boost for the Orioles, but there is a lot of baseball to be played before then. There is no denying losing Wieters is a blow to Baltimore's playoff hopes.