Washington Nationals: Grading Mike Rizzo’s 10 best free agent signings

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: General mananger Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals speaks to the media before game four of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 11, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: General mananger Mike Rizzo of the Washington Nationals speaks to the media before game four of the National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 11, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Matt Wieters (2017-present)

The Nationals could not have had more disparate seasons behind the plate than their 2016 and ’17 versions.

In 2016, fan favorite Wilson Ramos cranked 22 homers with 80 RBIs en route to a career-best .850 OPS and a Silver Slugger award. Unfortunately, Ramos’ ACL tear knocked him out of the 2016 playoffs and most of the 2017 regular season.

Ramos declined the Nats offer last winter, forcing them into the free agent market. In February, Rizzo came away with former Orioles backstop Matt Wieters on a two-year, $20 million contract.

Wieters had been on a steady decline since his 2014 peak, but the hope was he could at least be around league-average in 2017. He was not.

Wieters was the worst catcher in baseball last year, and the only one to post a negative WAR (-0.2) with at least 400 plate appearances. The 31-year-old batted just .225/.288/.344, including a .196/.279/.292 performance after the All-Star break. He topped it all off with a disastrous playoff display where he finished 2-14 at the plate and provided a costly error in the field. Nats fans were ready with the pitchforks.

There are some options on the free agent market, but it seems like Wieters will receive the bulk of the plate appearances once again. It’s unlikely he’ll be any worse in 2018… but then again, you never know.

Grade: F

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