ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick mentions the Cincinnati Reds as a possible destination for Matt Wieters, the 30 year-old catcher who  has spent the last eight seasons (his entire career) with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s not clear whether the Reds are actually engaged in active discussions with Wieters, or if this is just some “MLB insider” who sees the Reds as a good fit.

Wieters, of course, has had a fairly successful run with the Orioles, making four American League All-Star teams, and winning two Gold Gloves. He was about a two-WAR player last year, hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 HR (.307 wOBA). The numbers show that his defense has slipped somewhat from his peak, but that he’s still an effective defender at catcher.

Wieters is probably better than Tucker Barnhart, though he’s not the player he once was. The Orioles have acknowledged as much by not making a serious attempt to re-sign him:

Will the Reds be willing to spend cash to get a one-year upgrade at catcher? It doesn’t make much sense to me. Wieters is reportedly willing to sign a one-year deal, and at any rate, I can’t imagine the Reds ponying up money for a multi-year deal for a 30 year-old catcher anyway.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Devin Mesoraco. MLBTR has a pretty good summary (tip of the cap to Ohio Jim, who pointed us to this link):

The Reds are a new name in the mix, and their interest in Wieters or any other established catcher hinges on Devin Mesoraco’s health.  Mesoraco underwent hip surgery last summer and was scheduled to begin catching drills around this point in January, so more should be known about his injury situation in the next few weeks.  Since signing a four-year, $28MM extension after the 2014 season, Mesoraco has barely been able to get onto the field, playing just 39 games total in 2015-16 due to shoulder surgery and procedures on both his left and right hips.  Tucker Barnhart handled most of the work last year in Mesoraco’s absence, hitting .257/.323/.379 in 420 PA and posting strong blocking numbers according to Baseball Prospectus, though both BP and StatCorner rank Barnhart as a below-average pitch framer.  Rule 5 pick Stuart Turner is the only other catcher on Cincinnati’s 40-man roster.

I guess the only way this makes any sense at all is if the Reds think Mesoraco isn’t going to be ready for the first month or two of the 2017 season. The Reds could sign Wieters to a one-year contract, with the idea that they could always flip him at the trade deadline.

I dunno. If I squint hard enough, I can kinda see how this makes sense for the Reds. What am I missing?

20 Responses

  1. Jeff Lyons

    I would have to think it would take $12M or so to get him. Doesn’t make sense to me. If Winker isn’t ready I would have rather seen them spend that kind of money on a corner outfielder. Has to be pure speculation.

  2. Gaffer

    Typical BS reporting by Crasnick. Even if Mes can’t catch full time, Barnhart is better than Weters factoring in defense. The line about the ballpark differences is ridiculous as Camden and Great Am play similarly and Weters hit poorly.

  3. JB WV

    This report makes me uneasy about Dev’s health. Reds know more than they’re letting on about his condition? If he can’t catch, Wieters/Barnhart wouldn’t be bad.

  4. Jason Linden

    I don’t know Wieters’ framing numbers, but Barnhart has registered as well below average (as noted above). I think we’d all agree that the single most important thing this year is bringing the young pitchers along. And so the question becomes this:

    How much is it worth to you to not have a catcher behind the plate who gives away strikes?

    Pitch framing is really, really important until such time as we have a strike zone that isn’t called by inconsistent humans. This is doubly true when you have lots of new pitchers.

    • Stillred

      I thought I’ve read here that Barnhart handles his pitchers (many of whom he’s come up with) quite well. That should be a factor to consider as well. Framing certainly is an issue with the seeming inability of our young pitchers to throw strikes (are we going to blame our pitching staff’s records BBs on Barnhart’s framing??)

    • Jason Linden

      I suggest you look at how framing is measured. Has very little to do with how much control the pitcher has.

  5. Jason Linden

    Ryan Hanigan is 36 and had an OPS of .468 last year. I love him for what he did for the Reds earlier in his career, but giving him anything at this point is a Schumaker-level signing.

  6. sezwhom

    What am I missing?

    Mez can’t be counted on to be healthy? I mean, there is a history here.

  7. ScottyA

    I think they should consider Only if it seems Meso is out for a long period early this year. Injury history of wieters and stats declining are issues. I like the sign and flip idea but only if meso is out extended period.

  8. Dave

    Cut and paste from my post on RML just now. Feelin’ lazy.

    I’ve been in on this for awhile, with the thought of using Mesoraco off the bench in LF and RF, C, perhaps at 1B, even 3B as needed. It is doubtful Mesoraco returns to full time catching. Don’t forget his concussion history. He may not have many collisions left in him as it is. Full time playing is another story. How do we get as much value out of his next two years, and beyond, is one question. His bat is his value. He’s an average catcher at best. But he is athletic. If giving up catching is good enough for Joe Mauer, Craig Biggio, and Dale Murphy, why not Mes?

    Second question, and probably more significant, is how would signing Wieters help the rebuild. Several ways, actually. He’d be an excellent bridge to the next generation of catchers. He’d be a role model for Tyler Stephenson given body type. He would team with Tucker in developing a young staff and in providing a veteran for the veteran arms. He’d provide a solid bat to hit fourth. He’d help guide Tucker, and Mes as he’s allowed to catch. He’d transition to that veteran on the bench, potentially, that fits the current desire for high flexibility in positions played, assuming he can move out from behind the plate. I’d say two years with an option. Wieters would be an excellent bridge to Okey and Stephenson

    • ohiojimw

      The hitch is that Meso’s (power) hitting is at much a question due to the left shoulder surgery as is his ability to catch full time.

  9. ohiojimw

    To me, much more than Wieters, this is about what’s going on with Meso if at this relatively late point in time the Reds are now kicking tires on guys who seem to be more than journeymen back ups.

  10. Why oh Why

    Anyone remember the ridiculous hype on Weiters when he was close to breaking into the bigs? Good lord it was Strasburg esque. Was rated even higher than Posey if I recall and they both made their debuts about the same time. Is he just another guy at this point?

  11. Tom Mitsoff

    Even if Mesoraco can’t catch and the front office knows it, this doesn’t make any sense. How does one year of Wieters help the rebuild? He’s not going to start unless Barnhart also gets hurt. When I initially read the report last night, I discounted it.

  12. jazzmanbbfan

    Plus, Mesoraco has essentially gone two years without regularly facing live ML pitching. I would think, regardless of the condition of his shoulder, it will be a challenge to step back in and hit consistently after that much time away.

  13. Anthony T Ridley

    I think its about his experience in calling a good game. The reds haven’t had that. A good savy veteran behind the plate can do wonders for a young staff. Tucker had one of the worst catching era’s in the league. Devin the same. Weiters are Yodier Molina would make a world of difference. Catcher I’Q should be an Mlb rating.

  14. Alex

    Sounds like Boras is trying to create a market for his catcher client. Guessing the Reds have zero interest in Wieters unless Mesoraco is hurt or Wieters will take 1/$5m. Very unlikely pairing.