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Nationals' Matt Wieters exercises player option

MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ORIGINAL: Nationals catcher Matt Wieters will exercise his $10.5 million player option for 2018, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Friday.

This probably isn’t the scenario that Wieters, 31, or the Nationals envisioned when the veteran catcher signed with Washington shortly after the start of spring training. In the best case, Wieters would have been able to parlay his one-year deal into a hefty free-agent payday this offseason. That likely would have been alright with the Nationals, who have two 24-year-old catching prospects, Raudy Read and Pedro Severino, with little left to prove in the minors.

But after crossing over to the other side of the Beltway Series after an eight-year tenure with the Orioles, Wieters posted a career-worst 63 OPS+ in 2017, slashing .225/.288/.344 with 10 homers in 465 plate appearances. He graded out rather poorly as a defender and a pitch framer, and his passed ball and subsequent throwing error in Game 5 of the NLDS may have cost the Nationals their first-ever playoff series win, even though MLB later ruled that the play should have been ruled dead before he made the throw.

While Wieters will surely get an opportunity to bounce back in 2018, it seems likely that he’ll yield some playing time to either Severino or Read with veteran backup Jose Lobaton hitting free agency this offseason.