Matt Wieters accepts qualifying offer

Catcher Matt Wieters will return to the Orioles in 2016.

Wieters has accepted the Orioles’ $15.8 million qualifying offer, according to a source, while first baseman Chris Davis and left-hander Wei-Yin Chen are assured of rejecting it. The club hasn’t confirmed it, but an announcement will come later today. The deadline is 5 p.m.

Wieters was the uncertain one in the group. All three players are represented by agent Scott Boras.

The Orioles will receive compensatory draft picks if Davis and Chen sign with other teams, and they can continue to negotiate with them. They can’t trade Wieters before June 15 without his consent.

wieters-happy-walk-off-white-sidebar.jpgManager Buck Showalter said yesterday that he hoped Wieters, 29, would accept the offer and give the club a chance to work out a multi-year extension. The Orioles viewed it as a win-win situation. They could retain one of their more popular players and a clubhouse leader, giving him a heavier workload next season, or collect the draft pick.

The market for Wieters is shrinking after the Braves re-signed A.J. Pierzynski, and the Mariners reportedly are close to reaching agreement with Chris Iannetta. The Orioles intended to improve their catching depth behind Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger, with the assumption that Wieters would decline the offer. They expressed interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the general managers meetings.

Wieters, the second player to accept the offer and the first Boras client, will attempt to land a more sizeable contract next winter. He was limited to 75 games this season, including 55 starts behind the plate, while returning from ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow. However, he easily was the most desirable catcher in a weak free agent class.

Wieters batted .267/.319/.422 with 14 doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBIs. The three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner batted .305/.408/.508 with three doubles and three home runs in 17 games in September.

Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus became the first player to accept the qualifying offer. Thirty-four players had declined it over the past three seasons.

CBSSports.com first reported that Wieters accepted the offer.

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