Wieters joins Nationals
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) Matt Wieters finally has a new team. One crazy accident turned his free agency into a harrowing experience.
Wieters cut his left wrist when a five-gallon glass water container broke in his garage on Nov. 1, delaying his offseason preparation and, he thinks, his chance to find a deal.
"It's tough finding a team when you can't do anything baseball-related," Wieters said Friday, when the catcher took batting practice and ran conditioning sprints at spring training with the Washington Nationals after his signing was announced. "They told me I was very lucky that it wasn't worse than it was."
Wieters agreed to a $21 million, two-year deal worth $10.5 million annually, one that gives him the right to terminate the agreement after this season and become a free agent again. It includes $2.5 million each year in deferred salary.
Now Wieters is working on getting up to speed with the pitching staff for the reigning NL East champions. The Nationals' first exhibition game is Saturday against the New York Mets.
"There's definitely enough time," Wieters said. "As a catcher, I'd love to have as much as possible. Being able to listen (to the pitchers) and how they pitch will help me out a lot."
He joins a crowded clubhouse of catchers. Jose Lobaton and Pedro Severino played in Washington last season, and the club traded for San Diego's Derek Norris. In all, there are six catchers on the 40-man roster.
General manager Mike Rizzo described Wieters as "a leader in the clubhouse and on the field" for the Baltimore Orioles, the only major league club the four-time All-Star has played for until now.