The Nationals have joined at least the Braves in what could turn out to be an NL East battle for free agent catcher Matt Wieters, league sources say.
Washington is said to be looking into whether Wieters, a career-long Oriole, can fit into their budget. They lost some power with the defection of catcher Wilson Ramos and trade of shortstop Danny Espinosa, so Wieters could make up for that. They did make a robust offer earlier for free agent Kenley Jansen, reported to be $85 million, before he went to the Dodgers, so they would appear to have some money left in their budget.
While the Nats added Derek Norris in a trade from the Padres earlier this winter, they still seem to looking at catching alternatives, including Wieters, who has played his whole career in Baltimore on the other side of the Beltway. They also have Jose Lobaton and prospect Pedro Severino.
The Braves have been in touch on Wieters, as well, though it’s uncertain how aggressive they will be here. The Mets are another logical fit for him, but to this point they are focused on the relief market and the potential trade of an outfielder, most like Jay Bruce.
The Diamondbacks and Rockies are among other teams that could make sense, though Rockies people suggest they are not unhappy with young catchers Tom Murphy and Tony Wolters and the Diamondbacks have hinted they may favor more of a part-time guy after signing Jeff Mathis and Juan Graterol to join Chris Herrmann.
The incumbent Orioles seem to be looking at outfielders and DH types and aren’t seen as especially likely to jump back into the derby for Wieters, a four-time All-Star for them, including last year when he had a .711 OPS. He has hit at least 15 home runs and had at least 60 RBI four times and is a multiple Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner.