Cards, Wieters make 1-year deal official

January 22nd, 2020

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals officially announced that they signed to a one-year deal on Wednesday, bringing back the veteran catcher to be ’s backup for a second year.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak hinted at a deal being finalized “soon” on Saturday at Winter Warm-Up, and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Sunday that the deal with Wieters was worth $2 million with $1 million in incentives.

Signing Wieters puts the Cardinals’ 40-man roster at a full 40.

Wieters, 33, said at the end of last season that he was looking for a team that had a role for him, and he said he was open to returning to St. Louis. The Cards’ interest in bringing him back was there all offseason after how last year went for both sides.

Wieters won the backup role for Opening Day 2019 after signing a Minor League deal in February, and he stayed in the Majors the entire year, stepping in smoothly for Molina when he went on the injured list for a month. Wieters slashed .214/.268/.435 with 11 home runs -- his most since 2016 -- in 67 games last season.

“He’s a leader,” Molina said Monday at Winter Warm-Up. “We had a great relationship, we worked together with the pitchers. To have him is an advantage. It’s good to have him, I’m so happy to have another year with him.”

The four-time All-Star, two-time American League Gold Glove Award winner (with the Orioles) and seasoned switch-hitter also adds a left-handed bat off the bench if needed. Wieters received plenty of praise from the Cardinals' pitching staff last year, which spoke to his comfort behind the plate and with his teammates.

It remains to be seen what the Cardinals have planned for catcher , their No. 4 prospect who made his Major League debut in 2019. Knizner played in 18 games last season and hit .226/.293/.377 with two home runs. In 66 games with Triple-A Memphis last year, the 24-year-old hit .276/.357/.463 (.821 OPS) with 12 home runs.

But Mozeliak brought up an interesting point Saturday, when he mentioned that with the 26-man roster this year, he could see teams carrying three catchers. Knizner might be better suited to stay in Triple-A for the everyday playing time, especially as he improves defensively, but if he has a good spring offensively, he could see more time in the Majors.

“I kind of just focus on what I can control, and what that is, is showing up at Spring Training physically and mentally ready to compete for a job,” Knizner said Saturday at Winter Warm-Up. “I don’t really worry about who’s ahead of me and who’s behind me, I just kind of focus on myself. I know if I can go out there and be physically and mentally ready to play every single day, that good things will happen.”