Spring training starts next week, and Matt Wieters, former Orioles catcher, 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star and conspicuous free agent, still does not have a team.
Agent Scott Boras appeared on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday to update his client's situation, and he discussed the value of a veteran catcher, Wieters' comparison to Carlton Fisk and his role in helping to develop the Orioles' bullpen.
On why it's important to have a catcher like Wieters
"When you go to look at playoff win probabilities and you talk about things, there are a number of teams that are very, very good teams but they will not participate in the playoffs. ... When you go back and look at the number of catchers in the last 10 years that are 23 years of age or younger, or you look at the number of catchers that have not played in the major leagues or started 100 games for three or four seasons, when you go back and look at all those catchers that have not done that or catchers who can’t throw and they don’t have that experience, and you say, 'How many of those catchers participate in the playoffs?' ...
"Now, if you have a veteran pitching staff and you have a young catcher, you have a greater likelihood, but the combination of the two, the data says that your team is not winning unless you have a catcher who can throw well [over] 30 percent, he’s a veteran catcher, he’s going to give you top-10 offense. You’re just not going to have much of a chance to win unless you’ve got a really, really veteran pitching staff that can overcome it."
On whether he expects Wieters to be signed in time for training camp, and whom the catcher compares to
"I never worry about a player who has skill and talent and is in the prime of his career. You go back and look at the age of 30 — you can compare him to Carlton Fisk. He has similar home runs and RBIs and games caught, and frankly, he’s a better ball blocker. They both throw out in the mid-30 percentiles. And the reality is that in Matt’s case, he had Tommy John [surgery] and everybody wanted to make sure his arm is OK, and in the last half of the season, he threw out 40 percent of his runners. It’s just merely an awareness.
"I think there’s a lot of owners who get to say to themselves, ‘If I want to win — If I want to win and be in the playoffs — if I had one player, an All-Star player … I can add a player of that dimension to my team and he can impact so many other players, that player’s still available and I’m probably not going to win without him. So I think there’s a number of teams that you can look at that have to make that judgment, evaluate it, look at it, but the numbers and the data that surround the catching criteria and what is necessary for playoff-caliber teams, when you go to look at that, I think Matt Wieters is that much of a difference maker."
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On his value to the Orioles and professional pitching staffs
"I think one of the greastest components about Matt Wieters is that he is one of the best at developing a pitching staff. Because [Chris] Tillman, you look at [Dylan] Bundy, you look at [Kevin] Gausman, you look in the relief corps. I mean, [Jim] Johnson was not a closer before he got to Baltimore and he had  saves under Matt. And then you look at [Zach] Britton; he was not a closer, and then Matt developed him. [Darren] O’Day, [Brad] Brach, you look at all these players who’ve achieved success in the major leagues, and they’re organic to the franchise.
"There are a few franchises that have been able to develop pitchers at that level. What’s the reason for it? And I think a lot of it has to do with communicative skills, with the ability to stop a running game, so pitchers don’t have to worry about it because a guy can throw out runners at a high rate. All these dynamics are important for both the development of an organization and an organization that is ready to participate in the playoffs now."
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