The Orioles love the 22-year-old Wieters, who manager Dave Trembley has compared to Joe Mauer. While they're not committed to breaking camp with Wieters as their starting catcher, they believe he'll be ready at some point in 2009.
"This trade was more about Matt Wieters," Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail said in announcing the trade.
The Orioles included $3 million to pay part of Hernandez's $8 million contract, sources told CBSSports.com's Scott Miller.
In addition to Freel, the Orioles received a pair of minor leaguers, third baseman Brandon Waring and second baseman Justin Turner.
Wieters was Baltimore's first-round pick in 2007, and he has drawn raves reviews from scouts inside and outside the organization.
The Orioles will look to add a veteran catcher to work with Wieters and also be ready to begin the year as the starter if they determine that Wieters isn't ready. It could benefit the Orioles financially if they start the year with Wieters in the minor leagues, because it would put off free agency for the Scott Boras client.
One other note on Wieters: A scouting director said today that out of the 2007 draft, he had Wieters ranked second only to David Price, the left-handed pitcher who was so impressive for the Rays in the playoffs.
"I also had (Wieters) ranked fifth as a pitcher," the scouting director said. "He had a 95-96 (mph) fastball, with an 84-87 slider."