Slimmed-down Wieters preps for full workload

Nats won't overwork vet, will also use No. 15 prospect Severino

January 4th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- Nationals catcher Matt Wieters has altered his workout routine and dietary plans this offseason as he aims to bounce back from a difficult first season in Washington.

Wieters arrived at Nationals WinterFest last month looking a bit slimmer, having begun his workout plan and starting to be more aware of the calories he's consuming. After playing the past few seasons around 235 pounds, he said he plans to play this season around 225, the weight he primarily played at as a rookie and earlier in his career.

"I feel good. I do feel like cleaning up the diet a little bit has made me feel a lot better," Wieters said. "I don't know about 10 years, but I do feel a little younger."

A revitalization from Wieters would be a huge boost after he posted a career-low .632 OPS and -0.6 Wins Above Replacement in 2017. He exercised his $10.5 million player option for '18, in large part because he said he wanted to be a part of a World Series contender.

The question remains what kind of role Wieters will play. While he is in line to be the starting catcher, the Nationals have said they plan on reducing his workload a bit to get maximum production. Wieters played in 123 games last season, but the team plans to split his time even more drastically. For now, that would be with -- the team's No. 15 prospect as rated by MLB Pipeline -- who figures to get an increase in playing time. But the Nats have also explored signing a veteran backup catcher in free agency and have been linked by numerous reports to be interested in Alex Avila.

The Nationals have also shown interest in Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to's Joe Frisaro, but there are multiple teams interested in Realmuto. The question is whether Washington would be willing to pay the price to acquire him.

Wieters said no one had spoken to him about a plan to reduce his workload, and his overhauled offseason routine was geared toward potentially catching more games.

"I'm trying to go the other way," he said. "Where I'm trying to get in better shape and even better to where I can catch more. I like being behind the plate. It's tough for me going into the season where 120, 130 [games] isn't the goal for me.

"At the same time, whatever is going to be best for the team and best for how I'm feeling. I'm excited because I do feel like ... with [Severino] back there, we have the ability to, if I need a day off, I can get it. We'll see what that plan is like moving forward. My goal now is to come in as good of shape as I can and catch 130 if I need to."