- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

While the closer situation is still up in the air, the Washington Nationals seem to have settled on who will fill the team’s needs behind the plate.

According to the Washington Nationals, longtime Orioles catcher Matt Wieters has signed a two-year, $21 million deal with the club.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker confirmed the move in his Tuesday press conference, pending a physical.

Wieters will make $10.5 million in 2017, with a player option for 2018 also worth $10.5 million, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Wieters, who made $15.8 million last year with the Baltimore Orioles, is the second offseason free-agent catcher acquisition for the Nationals, who lost All-Star Wilson Ramos to free agency after a season-ending injury in September.

Ramos signed with Tampa Bay Rays and isn’t expected to catch until mid-season or later, though the team has said he could see action sooner as a designated hitter. 

The Nationals had earlier acquired Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres for minor league pitcher Pedro Avila.

This is a big signing for the Nationals. In 124 games last season with the Orioles, Wieters hit .243 and smacked 17 home runs and 66 RBIs.

With Jose Lobaton and the addition of Wieters and Norris, the Nationals suddenly become rich at the catcher position. While Norris had a sub-par year with a .186 batting average and 14 home runs, Lobaton has been a proven backup catcher. 

With Lobaton and Norris each projected as a backup, a signee like Wieters was needed. The signing puts the Nationals over the 40-man roster limit, which could mean either Lobaton or Norris is expendable.

The Nationals first game of the year comes on April 3 against the Miami Marlins.

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