By Ryan Decker
Wednesday it was reported that the Baltimore Orioles are specifically interested in two players it would like to bring to the Charm City.
Signing the former of the two is the bad idea; the latter being the good one.
Starting with Wieters, it’s obvious why the O’s are interested in bringing him back.
The four-time all-star has spent the entirety of his eight-year career with the Orioles, and has had success both at and behind the plate. He’s a lifetime .256 hitter, and is regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in the league.
Pagan, a better hitter than Wieters with a career .280 average in his 11 years in the major leagues, has had some of his best seasons over the past five years with the San Francisco Giants. And even though he’s battled some injuries over the past few years, Pagan is still an above-average defensive player.
He, not Wieters, also fits and fixes more needs.
Pagan can fix a need Baltimore has for a leadoff hitter, hitting a combined .292 from the leadoff spot during his time in San Fran.
And despite him being a natural fit in center field, he has experience playing both of the corner outfield spots and is better defensively than any corner outfielder currently on Baltimore’s roster.
Leadoff hitter – check. Defense in either left and right field – check. Playoff experience and veteran leadership – check. Cheap? Yes.
There’s the biggest difference.
Wieters, due to the fact that even despite the inability to truly live up to expectations – especially with the bat – he’s still the second-best catcher on the open market this offseason, won’t be a cheap buy.
Sure he’s an Under Armor athlete (the company is based in Baltimore), but don’t expect him to take the hometown discount. He didn’t even allow himself to hit open waters last offseason, becoming just the second player in MLB history to accept the qualifying offer.
The outfielder won’t command a high salary, which is perfect for a team like Baltimore that has a few big-money purchases to make.
The catcher won’t be cheap, his hitting has decreased each of the last two years and he has never hit for higher than a .262 in a season in which he played more than 100 games, nor at this point in his career is his defense that much better than where Caleb Joseph’s game is currently.
Wieters has been a good player for the Orioles during his career, and who knows, maybe if he didn’t have to have Tommy John surgery two years ago he would be the better player to sign.
At this point, though, signing Pagan simply solves more problems than re-signing Wieters does.