Well, if not Wieters, then who? If you believe Dan Connolly's sources, that player might be Nick Hundley:
The best fit, without a doubt, is Colorado’s Nick Hundley, who spent part of 2014 with the Orioles and performed well. Pitchers liked throwing to him, he got along well with Joseph and Wieters and he made a real connection with catching instructor John Russell.Ken Rosenthal later solidified the team's interest with this tweet:
The Orioles definitely have an interest in a reunion with Hundley, according to sources.
The easy joke (and one I made, because I like low-hanging fruit) is that the team viewing Hundley as Plan A is comical/worrisome. Now is always a great time to panic!Hundley, in view of one source, is #Orioles’ Plan A. Team’s interest in him first reported by @danconnolly2016.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 21, 2016
Anyway, as I see it, here are the Orioles' catching options this offseason:
- Sign a catcher to a multiyear deal (Jason Castro, Alex Avila, maybe even Wieters, etc.)
- Ink Hundley or someone else to a one-year deal and give Chance Sisco more time
- Move ahead with Francisco Pena (or Audry Perez) in a backup role
- Begin the year with Sisco on the major league roster and give him the backup job
That last option almost certainly won't happen. The first one probably won't either, especially since there is strong competition for Castro's services. As a platoon bat with Joseph, Castro and Avila both make sense (Castro moreso). To his credit, Castro also rates well as a pitch framer, as does Joseph. Wieters and Avila do not, and neither does Hundley. There are a handful of other catchers out there, but most of them are not enticing options.
It's not hard to understand the clubhouse and familiarity aspect with Hundley. And we're talking about someone who is going to split duties with Joseph, not a full-time player. However, Joseph has never played in more than 100 games in any single season, so it's not like we're discussing an insignificant amount of work. Whoever the other catcher ends up being, he's going to play a lot. And anything more than a one-year deal for Hundley should be out of the question.
The second and third bullets above are most likely. And if you believe in Pena's pitch-framing abilities, then just going with him and Joseph wouldn't be the worst decision. Neither is very good with the bat, but having two guys who are good pitch framers, have strong throwing arms, and don't make a bunch of money would free up some room for the Orioles to do something else.