Should The Mariners Have Worked Something Out With Matt Wieters?
When the Mariners signed Carlos Ruiz as the team’s backup to Mike Zunino, they were officially telling the former Baltimore Oriole and now free agent Matt Wieters that they were not interested in signing him. Was this the best decision for the M’s and their future at the catcher’s position?
It would have been a complicated and strenuous process to finagle an affordable deal for Matt Wieters with his agent, and long time money-grubber, Scott Boras, but it could’ve happened.
Before the Mariners traded for veteran catcher, Carlos Ruiz, who has been established as the backup to Mike Zunino, the Mariners had the option to negotiate a deal for the four-time all-star in Wieters but opted to put all their eggs in the Zunino the basket as the team’s long-term answer instead.
In fairness to Zunino -who was originally the third overall pick in the 2012 draft- the Mariners would’ve had to work something out with his camp to get him to a place where he wants to be as a way of thanking him for his long-term commitment to the club, before working on a deal with the long-time Oriole catcher.
The Mariners have suffered at the catcher’s spot for a very long time, one could say for the last fifteen years or so, including when Zunino is behind the plate.
In his three hundred and fifty games with the M’s over four years, Zunino has never hit over .215 in a season, mostly because he’s striking out.
He has had flashes of all-star caliber power, hitting twenty-two home runs in 2014 and then later in 2016 hitting twelve with limited playing time. But overall, Zunino has been an offensive disappointment.
When he’s behind the plate on defense, he has also been shaky, committing five errors in both 2014 and 2015.
In 2015, those five errors were enough to rank him fourth for the most errors attributed to a catcher in the American League.
Wieters was error-prone as well, committing double-digit errors in two seasons, but made up for it by making many spectacular plays. If he wasn’t assisting an out or tallying a putout then he was making keys defensive stops at the plate to stop the opponent from scoring.
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All of his efforts earned him two Gold Gloves in 2011 and 2012, which is two more than Zunino or Ruiz have combined to earn in their careers.
Unlike Zunino, Wieters is fairly good at the plate. He has only hit below .240 once, and that was when he hit .235 in 2013 which is still .21 higher than Zunino has ever batted.
Wieters also hit more than twenty home runs in three consecutive seasons from 2011-2013. Again, Zunino and Ruiz couldn’t match that. Combined the Mariners catchers have achieved that feat once.
Wieters did undergo Tommy John surgery a few years back, but his 2016 numbers after going under the knife were on par with the rest of his stats in the league, proving that this awful injury doesn’t have to end one’s playing career.
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Wieters would have undoubtedly been one of the best, if not the best catcher the Mariners ever had. But, as always, it comes down to the green, and in this case, also a pledge to Zunino that the Mariners will stick with him long term.
Boras is still looking for Wieters to get around seventeen million dollars a year, a price that the Mariners or any team doesn’t feel is worth Weiter’s services.
It would have been a huge paycheck to handout every year, but with the rest of the pieces the Mariners now have like Jean Segura and the usuals, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, it would’ve given the Mariners another proven star, this time both behind and at the plate.
The move could’ve very possibly made the Mariners an instant contender to win the AL West or at least make the playoffs.
And not just for this year, the next several years as well.
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But now, this is history. The Mariners have made their bed and aren’t losing any sleep at night wondering what could’ve been if Wieters joined the club. When Wieters eventually does sign with a team, the Mariners will have to hope that missing out on this great player doesn’t come back to bite them.