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Casper Wells Rumors
Ron Gardenhire is in the last year of his contract and the Twins have lost 99 and 96 games the last two seasons, but don't expect him to be dismissed anytime soon, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. "I expect Ron to be on this job for a long time," says Twins GM Terry Ryan. "I don't consider it lame duck at all." Here are more notes from the American League.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says he has been so active on the waiver wire because he wants the Jays to field a good team in Triple-A Buffalo, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes (on Twitter). Earlier today, the Jays claimed pitcher Aaron Laffey, marking the Jays' 21st waiver claim since mid-October, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star noted earlier today (also on Twitter).
- Outfielder Casper Wells will be rusty as he tries to get his season started with the Athletics, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group writes. The Mariners designated Wells for assignment near the beginning of the season. The Blue Jays claimed him, but he never played a game for them, and then they too designated him for assignment. That left Wells in limbo for several more days until the Jays traded him to Oakland. At that time, Hickey notes, Wells hadn't played a game in almost a month, and he hadn't faced live pitching since taking batting practice with Toronto. "The rules hurt guys like me in this position, not seeing live pitching," says Wells. "It’d be nice to stay fresh. But I haven’t had any real at-bats in a month. I’ve done all that I could with that situation." Wells entered with the A's up 13-0 in Tuesday night's game against the Red Sox, and flied out. MLBTR wrote this weekend about how MLB's waiver claim rules hurt players like Wells.
The Rangers and Athletics sit atop the AL West with about 88% of the season remaining; the Angels, Mariners, and Astros are currently below .500. The latest from the division:
- "There's not a lot flashy about what we do. We work. We stick with each other. We try to make good decisions. We've made some bad ones. But more good than bad," Rangers president Jon Daniels told Yahoo's Tim Brown. The Rangers missed out on all the big names during the offseason, yet they're still looking good in the early going.
- The idea of a Jurickson Profar-Oscar Taveras swap between the Rangers and Cardinals "has crazy legs for something never discussed between the two teams," Daniels told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. MLBTR probably deserves some of the blame for that, but don't worry, we'll have real trade rumors to discuss soon enough.
- The Athletics sent $100K to the Blue Jays for Casper Wells, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Wells' role with the team once Yoenis Cespedes returns Sunday is unclear. After spending about a month in waiver/DFA limbo, Wells should at least get into a few games for the A's. He lamented the transaction-related layoff, tweets Slusser.
The Blue Jays have traded outfielder Casper Wells to the Athletics in exchange for cash considerations, according to a team press release. The A's transferred Scott Sizemore to the 60-day disabled list in order to create room on the 40-man roster. Wells is out of options and cannot be sent to the minor leagues, so an additional 25-man roster move will have to be made by the A's.
The Blue Jays claimed Wells, 28, off waivers from the Mariners after he was designated for assignment at the end of Spring Training. Wells didn't appear in a single game at any level for the Jays, however, as he was DFA'ed by Toronto just five days after being claimed.
Wells is capable of playing all three outfield positions and has posted a strong .264/.349/.489 batting line versus left-handed pitching in his career. Last night, MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth highlighted Wells as an example of players being left in limbo by the waiver process as he wondered whether or not the waiver system needs to be updated.
The Blue Jays designated outfielder Casper Wells for assignment, according to a team press release. The Jays made the move upon purchasing the contract of pitcher Ramon Ortiz. The Jays had claimed Wells off waivers from the Mariners last Wednesday, after the Ms designated him for assignment on March 31st. Wells is out of options, so he'll need to clear waivers before being sent to the minors.
Wells, 28, hit .228/.302/.396 in 316 plate appearances for the Mariners last year, spending time at all three outfield positions. He did not get into a game for the Blue Jays since last week's claim. Wells owns a .264/.349/.489 career line against left-handed pitching. He had joined the Mariners in July 2011 as part of the deal that sent Doug Fister to Detroit.
Wells, 28, came the Mariners from Detroit as part of the Doug Fister trade. In 432 plate appearances for the M's, Wells hit .225/.304/.406 with 17 home runs. Wells is capable of playing all three outfield positions and has abused left-handed pitching to the tune of a .264/.349/.489 batting line.
The Mariners elected to go with an outfield mix of Michael Saunders, Michael Morse, Franklin Gutierrez, Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay, leaving no room for Wells on the 25-man roster. As MLB.com's Greg Johns notes (on Twitter), today was the deadline for the Mariners to make a decision regarding Wells' future.
The Tigers opened the 2011 season with a rotation that consisted of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Brad Penny. With the non-Verlanders of that group (particularly Coke and Penny) underperforming, the team sought help for the back end of the rotation in July.
They got that help by acquiring Doug Fister (and reliever David Pauley) from the Mariners in exchange for four players: 20-year-old third baseman Francisco Martinez, 26-year-old outfielder Casper Wells, 25-year-old southpaw Charlie Furbush and a player to be named later that would be 22-year-old right-hander Chance Ruffin.
It's hard to believe that the Tigers, Mariners or even Fister himself were prepared for the results of this trade, so let's look at it on a player-by-player level…
The Major League Side
- Doug Fister: Fister was 27 at the time of the trade and had less than two years of Major League service time. He'd been solid but not spectacular in his brief career, as he was the owner of a 3.81 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 378 innings for the Mariners. He was in the midst of his best season when he was dealt, having pitched to a 3.33 ERA in 146 1/3 innings. Fister channeled his inner Greg Maddux upon arriving in Detroit though, allowing just 14 earned runs with a 57-to-5 K/BB ratio in 70 1/3 innings for the AL Central champs. He's significantly upped his strikeout rate in Detroit, and all told he's given them 232 innings of 2.95 ERA ball with a 7.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. Fangraphs pegs Fister's tenure in Detroit at a whopping 5.8 wins above replacement. He's under control for another three seasons and is set to earn $4MM this year after being eligible for arbitration for the first time this past winter.
- David Pauley: Pauley is perhaps the forgotten man in this trade, although there's probably a reason for that. The right-hander threw just 19 2/3 innings for the Tigers after the trade, allowing 10 runs on 26 hits and six walks with just 10 strikeouts. Pauley was ulimately released by the Tigers the following spring and appeared in just 16 2/3 innings for the Angels and Blue Jays last year.
- Charlie Furbush: Furbush floundered in Seattle's rotation in 2011, posting a 6.62 ERA in 10 starts. He thrived when moved to a bullpen role in 2012, however, thanks in large part to trading his curveball-changeup mix for a devastating slider to complement his heater. A triceps strain cost him a month of action last season, but when he was healthy he dominated lefties (.404 OPS) and held right-handed hitters in check as well (.637 OPS). Furbush can be a key bullpen piece in Seattle for a long time; he's not eligible for arbitration until the 2014-15 offseason, and he's under team control through 2017.
- Casper Wells: Wells brought a good amount of power and some excellent defense to the Mariners. He clubbed 17 homers in addition to a .225/.304/.406 batting line (102 OPS+) and was eight runs above average in 893 innings for Seattle, per The Fielding Bible. Wells is capable of handling all three outfield positions, but the Mariners made the questionable decision to designate him for assignment last week to give Jason Bay a chance.
The Prospect Side
- Francisco Martinez: Martinez was ranked as the Tigers' No. 4 prospect heading into the 2011 season, per Baseball America. He had reached Double-A at just 20 years of age — a rare feat that was a testament to the "live-bodied, athletic" label that BA slapped on him. He hit .310/.326/.481 for the Mariners' Double-A affiliate in 2011 following the trade, prompting BA to rank him as the team's No. 6 prospect entering 2012. BA praised his bat speed, stating that he "all the raw tools to fit the profile of an everyday third baseman, with the added bonus of plus speed." Martinez took a huge step backward in 2012, however, hitting just .227/.315/.295 in his second Double-A stint. He's dropped to No. 22 on BA's list of Top 30 Mariners prospects and No. 19 according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The Mariners tried Martinez in center field for 15 games in 2012 because of his plus speed, and Mayo notes that he'll play there exclusively in 2013. Mayo also points out that despite Martinez's struggles in 2012, he did improve his plate discipline — an area in which he'd previously struggled. He'll repeat Double-A in 2013, which isn't as grim as it sounds when considering he just turned 22 in September.
- Chance Ruffin: Ruffin had to be included as a PTBNL because he had been selected by the Tigers in the 2010 draft (48th overall). He had entered the 2011 season as the Tigers' No. 7 prospect, per BA, and he carried the same designation with the Mariners into the 2012 season. Ruffin actually pitched 14 innings for Seattle in 2011 (3.86 ERA, 15-to-9 K/BB ratio) but reported to Triple-A in 2012. The results were ugly. The Texas alum posted a gruesome 5.99 ERA in 70 2/3 innings and saw his K/9 plummet from 11.1 to 6.9, while his BB/9 increased to 4.5. The brutal season was enough to drop him off Mayo's Top 20 list and knock him back to 27th on BA's Top 30 entering the 2013 season. BA cites erosion of his solid command in college and inconsitent mechanics as the reason for his downfall: "He lands on a stiff front leg and throws across his body, hurting his ability to locate his pitches where he wants. His long arm swing in the back and lower release point make it easy for lefthanders to pick up his pitches, and they hit .294/.348/.516 against him last year." The good news is that BA still likes his stuff, praising a 90-93 mph fastball that can touch 95 mph when needed and a plus slider with late break, which BA calls a true out pitch.
It's easy to see why the Tigers look like big winners in this trade, as the two key pieces of the deal for the Mariners have both taken large steps backward in their development. However, Martinez won't be 23 until September — the same month in which Ruffin will turn 25 — and the team does seem to have a solid bullpen piece already at the Major League level in Furbush. Martinez won't be at such a large age disadvantage in the Southern League this year, which could benefit his numbers. Ruffin will also open the season at Double-A as the Mariners plan to convert him to a starting pitcher (hat tip: Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune).
At the time of the trade, ESPN's Keith Law wrote that the Mariners did well to acquire such a strong package for Fister and Pauley, but clearly the scales have tipped in Detroit's favor. A rebound from Martinez or successful to transition to starting for Ruffin would make this trade look fair, but even if that happens I doubt you'll ever hear the Tigers or their fans complaining about the Doug Fister trade.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The nine top names to watch in Los Angeles baseball in 2013 include Chase Headley and Robinson Cano, argues Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Headley could be an in-season trade target for the Dodgers, and Cano will likely be connected to the Dodgers as a free agent next winter. Shaikin also suggests that if the Dodgers don't do well in 2013, they could try to hire Rays GM Andrew Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Mariners' decision to keep Jason Bay and designate Casper Wells for assignment doesn't make sense, Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner says. Sullivan notes that Wells is younger, had four years of team control remaining, and has recently been the better player on both offense and defense — and the Mariners will likely lose him for virtually nothing. "Wells, probably, is going to end up getting traded to a team with a thin outfield in exchange for a non-roster barely-prospect," Sullivan says. Sullivan also points out that Wells was one of the key players in the Doug Fister deal with the Tigers. The Tigers already looked like clear winners in that trade, but it's even clearer now.
- The Giants' signing of Buster Posey to an eight-year, $159MM contract demonstrates the inequities between the Giants and the Athletics, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The Giants have opposed the Athletics' move to San Jose. "It's more than mildly ironic that the Giants granted a single player a contract that exceeds the A's entire payroll by a factor of three," says San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo.
- The trade of Vernon Wells to the Yankees gave the Angels additional payroll flexibility, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. The deal leaves the Angels about $6MM under the luxury tax threshold, Gonzalez reports.
The Mariners have designated outfielder Casper Wells for assignment, tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com. The Mariners now have ten days to either trade, release, or outright Wells to the minors. If Wells clears waivers, he cannot elect free agency because he does not have enough service time and has not been designated for assignment before, reports the Seattle Times' Larry Stone (Twitter link). The Phillies and Tigers could have interest in the 28-year-old. Wells was a member of the Tigers until he was traded to the Mariners in the Doug Fister deal in July 2011.
The roster move means Jason Bay has made the team. The Mariners filled the open 40-man roster spot by selecting the contract of right-hander D.J. Mitchell, who was then optioned to Triple-A, according to Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle (via Twitter).
Commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the Houston Astros' strategy and payroll, saying that the organization has "chosen the path with some very qualfied people" and that he "think[s] they're doing it the right way." ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider sub. req'd) that baseball should be more cautious in endorsing what he characterizes as a "strategy to lose." Of course, it remains to be seen how the major league club will compete this season in what figures to be a tough AL West.
- With today's news of a big extension for Adam Wainwright, attention could turn to another ace who could be extended: the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, however, Kershaw does not want to keep negotiations open past spring training and is staying quiet as to whether there has been any progress. Hernandez also notes that Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, visited Dodger camp a week ago but were not not actively discussing a Kershaw extension.
- The time is now for the Dodgers to decide what to do with their excess starting pitching, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles TImes. Aaron Harang, for one, may have thrown his last pitch in Dodger blue. While Harang's tepid spring is a deterrent, Dilbeck notes that the righty threw well last season and should draw suitors.
- Chris Young could sign with the Angels, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who also notes that the Mets are highly unlikely to sign him. The righty is back on the market after opting out of his contract with the Nationals.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says a decision between outfielders Casper Wells and Jason Bay will be made soon, leading Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times to posit that Wells could already have been put on waivers. If Wells is indeed put on waivers, he would be an option for the Phillies, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Diamondbacks have released Josh Booty, who earned a non-roster invite as the winner of "The Next Knuckler," the team announced on Twitter. The former QB was originally drafted by the Marlins fifth overall back in 1994 before he retired to pursue football, which meant that he was still technically under Marlins control when he joined Arizona for the spring.
2:00pm: Chavez says he will start the year at Triple-A, reports MLB.com's John Schlegel.
11:05am: Not surprisingly, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times confirms that it's a minor league contract. As Baker writes, the bigger story behind this signing is that it places Casper Wells' future with the Mariners in doubt.
10:40am: The Mariners have signed Endy Chavez, according to agent Chris Leible of the Legacy Agency on Twitter (hat tip: Andy Martino of the New York Daily News). Chavez will report to camp with the Mariners today.
Chavez signed a minor league deal with the Royals earlier this offseason, but Kansas City released the 35-year-old last week.
Chavez spent the 2009 season with the Mariners, appearing in 54 games and posting a .273/.328/.342 batting line before a torn ACL cost him the remainder of the season. Chavez is a veteran of 11 Major League seasons and seven teams. He is a career .269/.306/.367 hitter and a very highly regarded defensive outfielder at all three positions, as evidenced by his career 11.7 UZR/150.