Agent Scott Boras said Wednesday he has had discussions with several teams regarding catcher Matt Wieters – and he considers the Orioles still in play – but the market on free-agent backstops has yet to develop.
“All the teams kind of check in on catching and we’ve been meeting with clubs about him,” Boras said Wednesday at his annual winter meetings media scrum. “We’re kind of going through the process of scheduling things with him, meetings with such, so it’s going fine.”
The market on Wieters has been slow to form. But after another free-agent catcher -- former Washington Nationals backstop Wilson Ramos -- came off the board Tuesday, signing a two-year, $12.5 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, Wieters is unquestionably the top free-agent catcher remaining.
Boras acknowledged that the market might still take time to play out, and Wieters might not find a landing spot until late in the offseason.
“The clubs that need catching are pretty well defined,” Boras said. “Some are thinking about moving players to make room for him, so the timetable always on catching, I don’t know what it is; it’s always been -- I can’t think of one I’ve represented that didn’t sign in January, but they do.”
Still, Boras left the door open for a possible return to Baltimore as the Orioles are shopping for lower-cost alternatives such as free agents Welington Castillo and Nick Hundley.
“Matt’s always enjoyed playing in Baltimore, so it’s always a possibility,” Boras said. “… Look, he threw out over 35 percent of his runners. When Matt Wieters is behind the plate, the Orioles are in the playoffs. He’s won Gold Gloves … and his ERA of the pitching staff is one run lower than when other catchers catch. I think Baltimore has a real commodity there. He’s performed at high levels there.”
-- Boras also said he has held talks with clubs regarding another Orioles free agent, Pedro Alvarez, and added that Alvarez is currently experimenting with playing the outfield to become a better commodity. Alvarez’s glove was a liability. He made all but six of his 91 starts last season at designated hitter. His six non-DH starts came filling in as an emergency third baseman for starter Manny Machado.
-- No extension talks regarding Orioles closer Zach Britton have taken place, Boras said. Britton becomes a free agent following the 2018 season. Those extension discussions would be more likely to develop later in the offseason when players go through the arbitration process. Britton is coming off a season in which he converted all 47 save opportunities and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.