Though he understood the risks and took his time making the decision official, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said today that he always was leaning toward accepting the qualifying offer and staying in Baltimore.
It’s just the right fit for Wieters and his family.
Wieters will return to the Orioles on a $15.8 million contract as the second player to accept the qualifying offer. Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus also took it.
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision because when you play for six-plus years and get to free agency, it’s something where every player dreams of being able to see what’s out there,” Wieters said. “But at the same time, I wasn’t able to play the whole year healthy and a lot of things came into it, and I felt glad to be able to come back to Baltimore and in a clubhouse that I love. I love the guys in the clubhouse, the staff and being able to be in a city I love and both my wife and son love being a part of.”
“I think we were on the same page the whole time,” Wieters said. “We sort of just see what would be best for my family and I. I think we were both in agreement that to be able to play a full year healthy and be able to catch as many games as I want to catch is something that I want to go out there and do next year. And to be able to do it in Baltimore felt to me like a perfect fit.”
The idea, of course, is to put up better numbers, prove his durability and be rewarded with a big multi-year deal next winter when he re-enters the market. However, as the most desirable catcher in free agency this winter, he’s walking away from multi-year offers to stay with the Orioles for at least one more season.
“There are risks in every move you make,” Wieters said. “I came to realize that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so anything could happen on any day. The only thing I could do is try to make the best decision given the circumstances right now. And I feel a lot of good things can come out of being back in Baltimore and having connections like knowing everybody and feeling like it’s really not a one-year deal. It’s turned into an eight-year deal of being there.”
Wieters, the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft out of George Tech, will make the second-highest salary for one season in Orioles history behind center fielder Adam Jones, who will earn $16.3 million in 2016 and 2017 and $17.3 million in 2018.
The Orioles want to negotiate an extension with Wieters.
“You’re always going to be listening,” he said. “I love playing there and more importantly, I love being a part of that team and the guys in the clubhouse. I’m already excited about spring training now, which I didn’t know if it would happen this early in the offseason, so that’s a good feeling.”
The vibe will intensify if at least a few of the other free agents return to the Orioles next season.
“I’ll definitely try to make contact with those guys and see if there’s anything I can do to help make the decision easier to come back to Baltimore,” he said. “They’re all great players and they’re going to get a lot of offers out there. Everybody’s situation is different. I felt that my situation at this time was telling me to come back to Baltimore and play another year there.
“I think Adam said the other day, we want to have everybody come back, but we know it’s the business of baseball and that may not be how it goes. But whatever the guys do, we’ll be more than ecstatic to have them back, and the guys who find other teams, we’ll wish them the best.”