Everyone who was hoping against hope that Matt Wieters could avoid Tommy John surgery was just whistling through the graveyard. Once it became known that his elbow soreness was persisting and he would see Dr. James Andrews for a second visit, it was pretty obvious that his season was over.
It's a big setback for the Orioles, but they wouldn't have traded for Nick Hundley if they weren't pretty sure they were going to need a long-term solution when Wieters came up sore. If there is a surprise, it's the way Caleb Joseph has stepped up to provide a very solid defensive option for the club behind the plate.
The big question now is how this affects Wieters' future in the organization, since he won't be ready to play again until his final season before free-agent eligibility.
The Orioles certainly would like to lock him up with a long-term contract, but team officials aren't holding out a lot of hope that they'll get a hometown discount from agent Scott Boras, so they may not have the budget to make a serious bid to retain both Wieters and first baseman Chris Davis.
There has been speculation over the past year that the Orioles might look to include Wieters in a major trade at the end of this season or midway through 2015 to make sure they get more than a compensatory draft choice when he enters free agency, but that option also may be off the table until he comes back after surgery.
The Orioles could try to sign him to an extension now in an effort to make him more affordable, but it's unlikely Boras would entertain any offer that would tilt the risk-reward balance toward the team.
Realistically, the Orioles only can hope that Wieters is ready to play by next spring and can give them one more good season before they have to decide who they can afford to re-sign.