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Orioles need to make Wieters qualifying offer

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Orioles need to make Wieters qualifying offer

Between now and late Friday night, the Orioles must make qualifying offers to free agents.

They’re expected to make offers to Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

There’s really no reason not to.

While there’s been internal debate about Wieters, what do the Orioles have to lose in making him the offer?

Wieters has been a client of Scott Boras’ for even longer than he’s been with the Orioles. He’s certainly cherished his time with the Orioles, which is likely coming to an end, but he wouldn’t have stayed a Boras client if he didn’t trust his counsel.

Boras has been a vehement opponent of qualifying offers, and his clients, and all others, have rejected them.

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If the Orioles offer Wieters $15.8 million for 2016, he’ll reject it. Despite the hesitancies of some teams because of his 2014 Tommy John surgery, Wieters is by far the best catcher on the free agent market.

The Orioles value Wieters, and before the surgery did try to sign him to a long-term contract. Talks went nowhere.

In between then and now, Wieters had the surgery, and Caleb Joseph showed that he could be a creditable major league catcher.

In 2014, Joseph and Nick Hundley shared catching after Wieters’ surgery, and the Orioles handily won the AL East.

This is not to disparage Wieters. Not at all. After initially rehabbing at home, Wieters traveled with the Orioles in the final few months of 2014, offering counsel to the catchers and pitchers. He’s a terrific teammate.

He’ll be a great teammate somewhere else-whether it’s with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers or another team.

A rejection of the qualifying offer doesn’t stop a player from signing with the team. David Ortiz rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox in 2012 and re-signed for two more years shortly afterward.

Qualifying offers are a defensive move, not an offensive one. The only reason the Orioles have debated the Wieters offer is that they don’t want to spend $15.8 million on him next year. It would prevent them from doing other things.

The offer also ensures the team gets at least a draft choice as compensation. A year ago in the early stages of free agency, the Orioles did not make a qualifying offer to Nick Markakis.

Later, when his medical issues became known to them, they passed on him, but in retrospect perhaps they regret not making that qualifying offer.

Markakis signed a four-year contract with the Braves, and the Orioles were left with nothing but fond memories.

In 2014, the Orioles and Boras agreed on a $7.7 million contract for Wieters, and even after the surgery limited him to 26 games, they still came to terms on an $8.3 million contract. Boras saves his hard negotiating for free agency, not when the club has control.

Wieters played in 75 games, and had an irregular catching schedule, preventing him from playing as well as he has in years past.

Despite that, if the Braves were willing to look past Markakis’ medical issues, and he underwent neck surgery shortly after he signed with them, they and other teams, will probably overlook misgivings about Wieters.

The Orioles will move on without Wieters, but there’s still a slight chance he’d return. If Boras is unable to find a suitor, and I think he will, Wieters could accept a short-term contract with the Orioles.

But, with the likes of Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia heading the other free agent catchers, the guess here is that Boras finds another team—or more—to meet his price.

And we’ll be left to argue whether Wieters was the greatest catcher in Orioles history.

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

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Showalter fired as Orioles manager after 115-loss season

Buck Showalter has been fired as manager of the Orioles, who made three playoff appearances under his guidance but this year staggered through the worst season since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954.

Showalter confirmed the dismissal Wednesday in a text message to The Associated Press.

A three-time AL Manager of the Year, Showalter ranks second on the Orioles' career list with 669 victories, trailing Earl Weaver. He took over in August 2010 and orchestrated the resurgence of a team that suffered through 14 straight losing seasons.

Once hailed for making baseball in Baltimore relevant again, the 62-year-old Showalter is out of a job after a season in which the Orioles finished 47-115, 61 games behind Boston in the AL East. His contract expired at the end of October, and the Orioles opted against a renewal as they continue a major rebuild that began in late July, when they traded stars Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman for minor league prospects.

Those deals were made by Dan Duquette, the executive vice president of baseball operations, whose future with the organization is up in the air.

Showalter earned AL Manager of the Year honors in 2014 after taking the Orioles to the AL East title and a berth in the Championship Series. He was also named Manager of Year with the Yankees in 1994 and Texas in 2004. His career record is 1,551-1,517, including 669-684 with Baltimore.

"I just think ever since he came here, the franchise just gained a little more accountability, gained an edge for some time," Orioles outfielder Adam Jones said before the final game of the season. "It's the end of an era. A great manager, a great tenure. I don't know if he's going to coach or manage again, but he's got grandchildren. Go golf. Relax and go sit on the golf course."

With his future in doubt, Showalter appeared undaunted during the final series of the regular season.

"You know how good they've been to me? I'm not ever going to forget that, regardless of what happens," he said.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin was asked before his team's playoff game against the Yankees on Wednesday night whether Showalter was victimized by the trend toward analytics.

"I don't think Buck was a guy that ignored analytics," Melvin said. "I think it was probably a combination of how they did this year and maybe some relationships."

After the Orioles brought Showalter out of retirement, he offered renewed hope by fashioning a 34-23 finish in 2010 for a team that was 32-73 upon his arrival.

Baltimore ended a 14-year playoff drought in 2012, advancing to the AL Division Series following a victory over Texas in the wild-card game. Playoff appearances in 2014 and 2016 followed.

Last year, however, the Orioles fell to 75-87 after losing 19 of their final 23 games. Baltimore hoped the addition of starters Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner would enable the team to be a contender this year, but a horrid start quickly dispelled that notion.

The Orioles' deficit in the AL East reached double digits by April 18 and they were 8-27 on May 8. By the end of July, Baltimore fully entered rebuilding mode, leaving Showalter with the dubious distinction of overseeing a team that finished with the poorest record in the majors and one that surpassed the 1939 St. Louis Browns for most losses in franchise history.

Showalter never offered an excuse. He just grinded forward, working to prepare the team for 2019 even though he knew he might not be around to follow through.

At the outset of a season-ending series against Houston, Showalter was asked if he was thinking these might be his final days in the Baltimore dugout.

"We all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don't think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now," he said. "We've got some things to do these last four games that need to get done."

Showalter has a reputation as a no-nonsense manager, but his players appreciated his baseball knowledge and skill at handling a team. He made a point of talking to each of them on a regular basis, almost always offering encouragement.

"He gave me a chance," said catcher Caleb Joseph, who played six-plus years in the minors before arriving in Baltimore. "He believed in me in 2014, ran me out there and gave me a chance to be part of a championship team. He's really vouched for me ever since. I owe a lot to Buck and his loyalty. He's been a main figure here for a long time."

Sensing the end was near for the only big league manager he had ever played for, first baseman Trey Mancini said: "It's been an absolute honor to play for Buck. He's been incredible."

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

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Red Sox beat Orioles 6-2 to clinch home field through Series

The Boston Red Sox broke a 106-year-old franchise record with their 106th victory on Monday night, clinching home-field advantage through the postseason by beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to a pair of hits from major league batting leader Mookie Betts.

Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 hapless Orioles batters to assure the Red Sox of the best record in baseball this season and home-field advantage through the World Series, if they make it that far. For now, they know they will open the Division Series at Fenway Park on Oct. 5 against the winner of the AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and mostly likely Oakland.

The 1912 Red Sox won 105 games in their first season at Fenway Park.

The Orioles (45-111) became the sixth AL team and the first since the 2003 Tigers to lose 111 games, falling 60 games behind Boston (106-51) in the division. It's the first time since 1939 that teams separated by 60 wins in the standings have played each other.

Boston scored four in the second inning, getting back-to-back doubles from Steve Pearce and Brock Holt, an RBI single from Christian Vazquez and Betts' two-run homer over the Green Monster. It was the 32nd homer of the season for Betts, a new career high.

Betts also singled and scored in Boston's two-run fourth, moving him into the major-league lead with 125 runs scored. In his last three games, he is 10 for 16 with three homers and four doubles, and he leads teammate J.D. Martinez (.328) in the AL batting race.

Renato Nunez had three hits for the Orioles, who fell to 2-15 against Boston and 18-61 on the road this season.

FOR STARTERS

Six days after throwing six scoreless innings against the Yankees, Eovaldi (6-7) allowed one run on four hits in five innings, walking none but uncorking a pair of wild pitches.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy (8-16) gave up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings, striking out five.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Yefrey Ramirez is scheduled to start on Wednesday, but manager Buck Showalter said he wanted to give him an extra day or two. "I think Yefrey will pitch again, I just don't know when," Showalter said.

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts was back in the lineup after feeling soreness in his left shoulder during a swing and leaving Sunday night's game. ... INF Eduardo Nunez ran on Sunday to test his hamstring and was scheduled to run again on Monday with the goal of having him back in the lineup by Wednesday or Friday.

UP NEXT

LHP David Price (15-7) tries to bounce back from a rough start in Yankee Stadium in the second game of the series in what could be his last start of the regular season.