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Casper Wells Rumors
Former Tiger and current Mariner Casper Wells could be headed back to his old team, MLB.com's Jason Beck posits. "Maybe Casper Wells doesn’t make the Mariners roster," says Beck. "Maybe the Tigers can parlay their depth in another spot, maybe an extra reliever, into an extra outfielder." The Tigers currently have an open spot available for a righty-hitting outfielder. If they don't pursue one from outside the organization, that spot could go to Matt Tuiasosopo. Here are more notes from Detroit and Seattle.
- The Tigers shouldn't trade pitcher Rick Porcello because doing so would weaken their depth, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman argues. The better move, Heyman suggests, would be to place Porcello in their starting rotation and use Drew Smyly as an insurance policy. That's a viewpoint Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski seems to appreciate: "Really, one of our big needs is starting pitching depth," says Dombrowski. "If we trade one of these guys [either Porcello or Smyly], then we hurt ourselves more in that area."
- Heyman also notes that Dombrowski isn't nearly as eager as manager Jim Leyland to pursue a closer from outside the organization. "A manager and a general manager are in two different spots," Dombrowski says."I understand from a manager's perspective, he'd rather have one guy he can point to on a daily basis."
- Jesus Montero's injury could complicate Kameron Loe's bid to be added to the Mariners' roster, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Montero was struck in the head on Saturday by Francisco Lindor's backswing, and it's not clear when Montero will be able to return to action. If Montero isn't ready to go to start the season, the Mariners will have to add another catcher to the 40-man roster, perhaps Jesus Sucre. That might make it difficult for the Mariners to find space on their 40-man for Loe, and Loe can trigger an out clause in his contract on Monday.
- Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders is happy to have the offseason behind him, MLB.com's John Schlegel reports. Saunders signed a one-year deal with the M's as a free agent. "It was nerve-racking, not knowing where you're going," he says. "It was the first real free agency for me, and it was an experience, for sure. It's a good one to be over with. I feel bad for Kyle Lohse."
6:53pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski vehemently denied that he had proposed any deals involving Porcello, including any offers to the Padres, reports Lynn Henning of The Detroit News. Dombrowski acknowledged that his "phone has been ringing a lot," and added that "this is the best I've ever seen [Porcello] throw the baseball."
12:07pm: The Padres have turned down two offers from the Tigers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter). The Padres declined to take Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregerson, a Tigers source told Bowden.
THURSDAY, 8:33am: The Cardinals are checking out Porcello, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: The Rangers and Padres are the teams most actively discussing potential Rick Porcello trades with the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. The Orioles have also scouted the right-hander.
Despite the strong interest, rival teams wonder if the Tigers will actually trade Porcello. Instead of making a deal, the Tigers could choose to keep Porcello and use Drew Smyly in the bullpen or as a starter at Triple-A Toledo. The FOX writers report that the Tigers will not move Porcello unless they obtain a strong return.
The Padres made an “aggressive” offer last week and the Tigers rejected it, Rosenthal and Morosi report. Talks with the Rangers are not advanced at this point. The Tigers appear to like shortstop prospect Leury Garcia and right-handed pitching prospect Nick Tepesch. Detroit would want a third player added to the package, but the Rangers are reluctant to move even Tepesch.
The Red Sox could have interest in Porcello, yet they don’t want to reduce their bullpen depth, the FOX duo reports. The Orioles aren’t inclined to pursue Porcello aggressively, as they have many young starting pitchers of their own.
The Tigers also seek a right-handed hitting outfielder. They have talked about re-acquiring Casper Wells from the Mariners, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The Tigers traded Wells to Seattle midway through the 2011 season in the deal that sent Doug Fister to Detroit.
On this day in 2000, the Reds acquired Ken Griffey Jr. from the Mariners in exchange for pitchers Brett Tomko and Jake Meyer, center fielder Mike Cameron and infielder Antonio Perez. Griffey would sign the largest contract in MLB history at the time to the tune of a nine-year, $116.5MM deal. Let's catch up on the latest news and stories making headlines from around the big leagues.
- The Mariners enter Spring Training with more than just a handful of outfielders competing for four or five spots on the roster, writes Ryan Divish of The News Tribune. Casper Wells, gifted defensively but lacking a consistent bat, may be lost on waivers if he is designated for assignment as he is out of options.
- Ryan Lavarnway's chances of making the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox may be beyond his control given the presence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross as well as his option, says Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. “For me, I want to win the World Series,” Lavarnway said. "It doesn’t matter if I’m there for however long. We play this game to win and if you’re not playing this game to win then I don’t know why you’re playing. However I can help."
- The Red Sox made a series of offseason acquisitions which has to raise the question of how will all of the new players fit in to the culture of the clubhouse, wonders Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Abraham says GM Ben Cherington wants to field a squad that looks new in 2013 and hopes the additions made in the offseason will foster a different vibe in the clubhouse.
The Rangers and Nationals are waiting to hear if Nelson Cruz or Gio Gonzalez could face disciplinary action from Major League Baseball due to their possible connection to a clinic that sold performance-enhancing drugs, but though both teams are in limbo with these key players, ESPN's Jim Bowden doesn't think either team will jump quickly to find replacements until more facts are known. As it happens, Bowden says both clubs were already looking to improve in those areas before the news of this PED scandal broke — the Nats were known to want pitching depth and the Rangers were in need of another power hitter. Bowden suspects the Rangers will make a move for a big bat closer to the trade deadline.
Here are some more items from around the AL West…
- The Angels are close to signing right-hander Hiroyuki Kobayashi to a minor league deal, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter link). Kobayashi, 34, has pitched out of the bullpen for Chiba Lotte and Hanshin for the last three seasons. He last explored a move to MLB when he became a free agent following the 2010 season, when he was linked to the Pirates and Diamondbacks in rumors.
- It wouldn't make sense for the Rangers to sign Michael Bourn to replace Cruz, argues MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, since "a five-year contract to cover a two-month need seems a bit extreme." The Rangers didn't make a big push for a center fielder this winter since they like Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin as CF options.
- The Angels haven't talked to Mike Trout's representatives about an extension for the young star, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and is still two seasons away from arbitration eligibility. Those arb years will get expensive if Trout continues his superb play but, as Gonzalez notes, big-market clubs like the Angels can afford pricey arbitration payouts and thus don't quite feel the pressure that smaller-market clubs have to lock up their young stars early.
- Casper Wells has turned into something of an afterthought on the Mariners roster and could become trade bait if the M's were to add another outfielder like Bourn, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Wells struggled when given regular at-bats last season and Baker wonders if the club has given up on the player who was "possibly the front-liner" of the trade package the Mariners received in the Doug Fister deal.
3:51pm: The player to be named later in this trade is one of the Tigers' top three picks from the 2010 draft, tweets ESPN's Shannon Drayer. That means Nick Castellanos, Chance Ruffin, or Drew Smyly. I'm guessing Ruffin or Smyly.
12:08pm: The Tigers added pitching today, acquiring starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from the Mariners for third baseman Francisco Martinez, outfielder Casper Wells, southpaw Charlie Furbush, and a player to be named later. The Tigers have Fister for the long haul, as he's under team control through 2015 and isn't arbitration eligible until after next season. Both teams have confirmed the trade.
Fister, 27, has a 3.33 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, and 46.4% groundball rate in 146 innings this year. The big righty's walk rate ranks seventh in the AL, his innings total tenth. His 6.95 innings per start average is a welcome contrast from the Tigers' non-Verlander starters, who all average around six. Drafted in the seventh round in 2006, Fister (pictured) never cracked a Baseball America top 30 Mariners prospect list, but he's become a solid mid-rotation innings eater. The acquisition sets up the Tigers' front four starters beyond this season, with Brad Penny eligible for free agency but Fister, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello under team control.
Pauley, 28, has a 2.15 ERA, 5.6 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.33 HR/9, and 49.0% groundball rate in 54 1/3 relief innings for Seattle this year. His relief innings total ranks second in the American League. He's potentially under team control through 2015 as well. Pauley adds depth to the Tigers' bullpen with righty Al Alburquerque battling elbow inflammation. Those holding Pauley in fantasy leagues can probably cut bait, explains Dan Mennella of CloserNews.
Martinez, 20, is currently with the Tigers' Double-A club. Baseball America ranked him fourth among Tigers prospects prior to the season, noting he's always played against older competition and has projection remaining.
Wells, 26, is hitting .257/.323/.451 in 125 plate appearances for the Tigers. A right-handed hitter, Wells can play all three outfield positions. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked Wells 19th among Tigers prospects, explaining that "his holes at the plate will limit him to being a role player in the big leagues."
Furbush, a 25-year-old rookie, has a 3.62 ERA in 32 1/3 innings this year, mostly in relief. This year at Triple-A he posted a 3.17 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, and 1.2 HR/9 in 54 innings. Baseball America ranked him 26th among Tigers prospects prior to the season, noting that the Tommy John survivor used deception to rack up strikeouts in the minors. Furbush lacks a true plus pitch, according to BA. As for the player to be named later, he'll be chosen from a group of three on or before August 20th according to Jon Paul Morosi.
10:40am: Larry Stone of the Seattle Times tweets that the Mariners will also get a player to be named later, and it could be a "pretty significant name." The Tigers may make one more trade before tomorrow, tweets Jon Paul Morosi.
10:03am: The Tigers acquired Fister, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
9:05am: Lefty Charlie Furbush is among the players expected to go to Seattle in a Fister trade, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The Tigers are trying to get a reliever other than Brandon League as well.
Fister, 27, has a 3.33 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, and 46.4% groundball rate in 146 innings this year. His walk rate ranks seventh in the AL, his innings total tenth. His 6.95 innings per start average is a welcome contrast from the Tigers' non-Verlander starters, who all average around six. Drafted in the seventh round in 2006, Fister never cracked a Baseball America top 30 Mariners prospect list, but he's become a solid mid-rotation innings eater. He's under team control through 2015 and won't be arbitration eligible until after next season.