A reunion with Derek Norris may not be the only boost to the Nationals' battery this winter.
After ESPN's Buster Olney reported on the "rampant speculation" about their interest in Matt Wieters earlier this month, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports on Thursday confirmed that the team is interested in the 30-year-old. Of course, hours later, Washington Post reporters Chelsea Janes and Jorge Castillo reported that the Nats have held firm in their stance on Wieters, saying nothing has changed as it relates to the two sides.
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Whether there's fire or not, there's certainly smoke between the team and Wieters, who has spent his entire career just down the road in Baltimore. Wieters' market has been largely quiet this winter prior to a few days ago, when the Nats and the Braves, to an extent, emerged as the most interested parties.
The depressed market surely has something to do with Wieters' pedestrian .243/.302/.409 line in 2016, although he did hit 17 homers and drive in 66 runs. Despite the underwhelming overall line, Wieters was an All-Star for the fourth time.
The Nats lost starter Wilson Ramos to knee surgery and, this offseason, free agency, and they acquired Norris, a former prospect of theirs, from the Padres earlier this winter. But if Wieters is a mediocre offensive performer, Norris and his .186/.255/.328 line in 2016 is a downright disaster.
Super agent Scott Boras previously said Wieters could wait to sign until January. With the New Year right around the corner, we'll soon find out if the backstop's landing with a new club is, too.
Jays, Bautista Talking Reunion
The Blue Jays' need for an impact bat to replace the ones lost to free agency could reconnect them with a familiar face.
The team, per MLB Network's Jon Morosi, is "engaged in active contract discussions" with representatives for free agent Jose Bautista, who revitalized his career as a member of the Jays from 2008 until now. It's a new development after Morosi earlier this month tweeted that the Jays hadn't made a formal offer to the 36-year-old since he rejected their one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer in November.
The presence of that qualifying offer, as well as Bautista's age and a disappointing 2016 season at the plate, have greatly stifled the slugger's market, to the point that he is reportedly open to taking a one-year deal in hopes of setting himself up for a better deal next winter. Bautista hit .234/.366/.452 with 22 homers -- his lowest output since the 2009 season -- in 116 games with the Blue Jays this past season.
The Jays, of course, have been among the offseason's biggest losers after watching Edwin Encarnacion, Bautista, Michael Saunders, R.A. Dickey and Brett Cecil, among others, hit the open market. They've added Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce to the mix but are clearly behind the Red Sox, who have only strengthened their team after a 93-win season in 2016, as things stand now.
A healthy and motivated Bautista doesn't immediately change that, but it helps. With his market eerily quiet to this point -- some teams' executives have gone out of their way to say they won't be signing Bautista -- a return to Toronto may be in the best interest of all parties.
Quick Hits: T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported late Wednesday that the Rangers might be close to signing free agent first baseman Mike Napoli to a two-year contract. He said both sides are eager to make this happen. The reunion certainly has legs ... MLB Network's Jon Morosi reports Buster Posey and 10 other position players have confirmed their intent to play for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. The complete list thus far is Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, Eric Hosmer, Paul Goldschmidt, Ian Kinsler, Nolan Arenado, Brandon Crawford, Daniel Murphy, Christian Yelich, Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen. Great lineup, now about their pitching ... Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said Thursday that he's not overly concerned about Eduardo Rodriguez's latest right knee injury. E-Rod tweaked the knee slipping on a wet mound Tuesday during an appearance in the Venezuelan Winter League, but it seems as though he's expected to be fine ... Tigers signed RHP Edward Mujica to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Mujica didn't appear in a major league game in 2016 shouldn't be expected to do much in 2017, even with Detroit's forgettable bullpen ... Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich acknowledged Wednesday that the club has checked in on free agent reliever Greg Holland. The Rox do appear to have designs on winning in 2017, but Holland, who will surely be looking for a soft landing spot where he can re-establish some value, may not be so thrilled about the idea of pitching half his games at Coors Field. We'll see.