The Orioles hope to extend catcher Matt Wieters but the Scott Boras client is looking for a contract comparable to Joe Mauer's eight-year/$184 million deal, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Wieters is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility this off-season after earning $5.5 million in 2013. According to Olney, the Orioles approached Wieters about an extension during spring training this year and they received a counter-offer in the range of Mauer's contract, which is currently the largest deal ever given to a catcher.
Wieters 2013 season certainly didn't help justify such a lofty request. The 27-year-old hit .235/.287/.417 in 579 plate appearances, a below average performance even for someone at the least offensively productive position. Apart from an off-year this season, however, he has been a very productive player. For his career, he has hit a more reasonable .255/.319/.420. He also has a reputation as an excellent defender behind the plate and his career caught stealing percentage (33%) is well above average.
He doesn't compare to Joe Mauer at all, however. Mauer signed his record-setting deal after winning the 2009 AL MVP. All three sections of his .365/.444/.587 slash line lead the league that year. Between 2004, when he first arrived in the majors and 2009, the last year before that deal was signed, Mauer led all catchers with 27.4 fWAR and a wRC+ of 135. Wieters has been worth 14.4 fWAR in a year less playing time and his wRC+ is just 96. While he would command a sizable long-term deal if he were on the open market this season, Wieters would almost certainly rank well behind former Brave Brian McCann on teams' wish lists and compare more closely to Red Sox backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Neither player is in line for a deal anywhere Mauer's contract.
Scott Boras is a master at getting his clients top dollar and starting the bidding with an absurd asking price is a strategy he has often employed. Matt Wieters is an excellent young catcher and it is easy to see why Baltimore would want to extend him beyond his arbitration-eligible years, but he is no Joe Mauer and he isn't that close either.