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Wieters exercises '18 option to stay with Nats

Veteran will earn $10.5 million next season as he looks to rebound offensively
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Matt Wieters will remain with the Nationals in 2018 after he officially exercised his player option Monday afternoon. He had been weighing his choices through the weekend, before deciding to take the $10.5 million player option as he attempts to have a bounce-back season.

Wieters struggled offensively in his first season in Washington, as he batted .225 with 10 home runs and a .632 OPS. His 62 wRC+ was tied for the second worst among players with at least 400 plate appearances. The down year at the plate might have made it difficult for Wieters to command the same sort of salary for 2018 if he decided to test the free-agent market.

WASHINGTON -- Matt Wieters will remain with the Nationals in 2018 after he officially exercised his player option Monday afternoon. He had been weighing his choices through the weekend, before deciding to take the $10.5 million player option as he attempts to have a bounce-back season.

Wieters struggled offensively in his first season in Washington, as he batted .225 with 10 home runs and a .632 OPS. His 62 wRC+ was tied for the second worst among players with at least 400 plate appearances. The down year at the plate might have made it difficult for Wieters to command the same sort of salary for 2018 if he decided to test the free-agent market.

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However, several pitchers on the Nats' staff raved about Wieters' preparation and game management. He guided Nationals pitchers to a 3.61 ERA, the second lowest behind Yasmani Grandal (3.22) among National League catchers with at least 600 innings caught.

"What he does for a pitching staff is off the charts and in great demand," his agent Scott Boras said this weekend. "He's an exceptional leader of a team."

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The Nationals will now have to determine if they believe Wieters is due to rebound offensively and return toward his career norm. Or Washington could explore the market for catching help.

The Nationals do have two catchers on their 40-man roster who might be ready to contribute at a larger role in Raudy Read and Pedro Severino -- their No. 14- and 15-ranked prospects, respectively, according to MLBPipeline.com. Either way, they seem likely to need another catcher to play a significant number of games next season. Wieters played in 123 games in 2017 after appearing in 124 games in '16, so his backup is likely to appear in about 40 games. Washington could search for veteran backup help, such as Alex Avila, Nick Hundley or Miguel Montero to aid Wieters, or it could opt to trust in the young catchers in the system.

Either way, the Nationals will have significant money committed to Wieters, who figures to have an important role on their team in 2018.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

 

Washington Nationals, Matt Wieters