NEW YORK — It's rare that a player has to consider his free-agent future two years in a row, but that's what Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will face this offseason.
Wieters has spent his entire eight-year career with the Orioles. Last November, Wieters accepted the qualifying offer for a one-year, $15.8-million contract to remain with the team rather than test the free-agent market.
Wieters said that at this time last year he was thinking about the future, wondering if he was playing his final days in an Orioles uniform.
The Orioles spent their offseason dedicated to keeping their free agents. Not only did Wieters return, but the club re-signed Chris Davis to a seven-year, $161-million deal and inked set-up man Darren O'Day to a four-year, $31-million deal.
The Orioles head into this afternoon's regular season finale at Yankee Stadium looking to clinch a postseason berth. But whether it's today or over the next few weeks, these could be the final days with the Orioles for Wieters, who is a four-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove winner.
Wieters said those thoughts haven't crossed his mind because he's been more focused on extending the season with a playoff run.
"Winning is always the biggest thing to focus on so that makes it easier," Wieters said. "In baseball players' minds, once you stop thinking about that one goal in general that everybody in here has as a team, it can be a dangerous place to get to. … It was harder last year because that last week or two we weren't in the playoffs and I was thinking about it non-stop the last couple of weeks."
It seems unlikely that the Orioles will make Wieters another qualifying offer – which would now be worth $16.7 million – but Wieters still figures to be one of the top catchers on a dry free-agent market. He enters Sunday's regular season finale hitting .241/.301/.395 in 122 games, but has 15 homers and 62 RBIs. He's made 109 starts behind the plate and has caught 35 percent of al potential base-stealers – a sign he's recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Still, the free-agent market is an unpredictable one for catchers, and because of that, Wieters said he doesn't plan on spending much time trying to think about where he will land.
"If I get something in my head, it will probably go something completely different than the way I'm picturing it," Wieters said.