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Matt Wieters Headed to Washington
It took until after the start of Spring Training, but Matt Wieters finally has a home. The Nationals didn't have a huge need for a catcher after acquiring Derek Norris in the off-season. Still, they felt Wieters was an upgrade and he agreed to a two-year contract with an opt-out clause after the first year.
Wieters will make $10 million this season and the option for next season is $11 million. The Nationals have Wieters, Norris, Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino. Washington will have to make a move and the indication is that they will try to deal Norris.
If Norris stays with the Nationals, that could hurt Wieters' value. I am expecting a trade and see Wieters as a top-10 fantasy catcher. Wieters is considered a disappointment because the expectations were enormous when he was a prospect. He has been good but not great.
Wieters moves to a less friendly home park, but he doesn't have stark home/road splits. He won't be able to appear in 145 games like he did some years for the Orioles when he had the ability to DH. He's more likely going to appear in 130-135 games if he stays healthy the entire season.
Wieters played in 124 games last season and had 423 at-bats. He hit .243 with 48 runs, 17 home runs, 66 RBIs and a 33-percent hard hit rate. In the five seasons Wieters has played at least 124 games, he averaged 19 home runs. The Nationals lineup is good and the fit is a good one for Wieters.
In a 15-team roto 5x5 mock draft on Tuesday night, I selected Wieters as my first catcher in round 12 in a league where you start two catchers.
Who Will Close For the Nationals?
For a team that is hoping to contend for a pennant, the Nationals have a big question mark at closer after losing out on all the top closers that were available. For now, the job is open.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said Shawn Kelley, Blake Treinen and Koda Glover will vie for the ninth inning role. Unless they trade for David Robertson or another closer before the start of the season, I favor Kelley to land the role. He's certainly not a safe pick, but if he goes into the season with the job use a late pick on him. I selected him in round 19 of the 15-team mock.
Kelley has the most experience and pitched well in San Diego in 2015 and last season with the Nationals where he saved seven games. In 58 games, he had a 2.64 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and an 80:11 K:BB ratio. He did have a 49 percent fly ball rate and allow nine home runs. Kelley throws a lot of sliders and has had Tommy John surgery twice.
Treinen throws harder than Kelley, but has command issues throughout his career. He has a career WHIP of 1.33 and a 4.16 BB/9 last season. Glover turns 24 in April and appeared in 19 games for the Nationals last season. He averages closes to 97 miles per hour with his fastball and in 19.2 innings, he had a 5.03 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 16:7 K:BB ratio.