Wieters may benefit from a shortened regular season, as the reduced number of games could prompt the Cardinals to keep prospect Andrew Knizner at Triple-A Memphis throughout the campaign. Neither Wieters nor Knizner did much to speak of at the plate before spring training was suspended, and the fact that both the major- and minor-league seasons will almost certainly be abbreviated to some degree this year could work in the veteran's favor. Wieters was brought back on a team-friendly $2 million deal for 2020, which implied the Cardinals likely preferred to keep Knizner down on the farm for additional seasoning. The fact the 25-year-old scuffled offensively this spring and has a modest 83 games of Triple-A experience further increases the probability he stays with the Redbirds for the duration of the shortened season before a projected ascension in 2021.
Wieters was hitting .158 (3-for-19) with one double, one home run, three RBI, one walk and two runs across eight Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended. The veteran catcher returned to St. Louis on a one-year contract to once again serve as Yadier Molina's backup, and although he's endured a sluggish spring, he still remains the clear favorite to open the season in that role after slugging 11 home runs across 67 games during his first Cardinals season in 2019. Andrew Knizner is also in camp and considered the heir apparent to Molina, but he's also struggled this spring (.154 average across 13 games) and is expected to open the season in Triple-A Memphis.
Wieters agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Cardinals on Sunday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. The 33-year-old's return to the Cardinals has been rumored throughout the offseason, and he'll now officially serve as Yadier Molina's backup for a second season. Wieters posted a .214/.268/.435 slash line with 11 home runs and 27 RBI in 67 games (183 plate appearances in 2019, as Molina played in his fewest number of games (113) since 2014.
Wieters slugged a pinch-hit, two-run home run in his only at-bat during a win over the Nationals on Wednesday. Wieters' first at-bat since Aug. 31 could hardly have been scripted better, as he launched a 368-foot shot to right off former battery mate Max Scherzer with Tommy Edman aboard to extend the Cardinals' lead to its final 5-1 margin. Wieters appears to finally be over the calf strain that had plagued him the entirety of September and will be available to give Yadier Molina any needed breathers over the last week-plus of St. Louis' postseason push.
Wieters (calf) responded well to participation in baseball activities the last two days and was available off the bench Tuesday night against the Nationals, the Associated Press reports. "Wieters is cleared," St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. "He's available." The veteran catcher's return to action gives Shildt a left-handed option off the bench during the stretch run, as well as a reliable backup to fellow graybeard backstop Yadier Molina. Wieters had been sidelined the entirety of September with his calf strain.