Wes Helms Rumors
Here's the latest from the around the league, including updates on two low-profile free agents...
- Wes Helms is currently working out and waiting for an opportunity with the right team, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). The 35-year-old hit .191/.276/.236 with the Marlins last season before being released in August.
- Free agent right-hander Kyle Davies is currently rehabbing from a December shoulder surgery, tweets Dierkes. Davies, 28, pitched to a 6.75 ERA in 13 starts for the Royals last year before getting released in August.
- Sources tell Jeff Blair of The Globe and Mail that the Blue Jays will not add a starting pitcher owed significant money right now. A cheap, innings-eating stopgap is more likely. Toronto has been connected to Joe Blanton and Gavin Floyd recently.
- Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com interviewed Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich about the upcoming amateur draft. Baltimore holds the fourth overall pick this year.
The Braves released Wes Helms barely two weeks after signing him, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The infielder's heel is bothering him and he told Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez that he wouldn't be able to help as anticipated.
Helms hit .191/.276/.236 in 124 plate appearances for the Marlins before they released him. The 35-year-old has spent most of his 13-year career at first and third, but he also has some experience at second base and in the outfield. He has a .276/.350/.446 career line against left-handed pitching.
The Braves have signed Wes Helms to a minor league contract, reports Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). MLB.com's Mark Bowman says (on Twitter) that he will report to their Triple-A affiliate on Saturday and likely be called up when rosters expand on September 1st.
Helms, 35, was released by the Marlins earlier this week. He was hitting .191/.276/.236 in 124 plate appearances at the time, though the righty swinger is just a year removed from a .324/.420/.521 performance against lefties. Helms has spent the majority of his time at the corner infield spots over the last few years. The Braves will only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum, the Marlins are on the hook for the rest of his $1MM salary.
After a shocking demotion to Triple-A New Orleans last night, Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison will speak with the Players Union to see if there are grounds for filing a grievance, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Shortly after a game in which he batted third for the Fish, Morrison was given the news of his demotion, along with the notice that clubhouse leader Wes Helms had been released. The Marlins cited Morrison's .249 batting average as their reason for the demotion, but Morrison told reporters he thought the move was related to an off-the-field issue.
Capozzi's article shines some light on the situation, as he informs readers that Helms had advised Morrison that he didn't have to attend a meet-and-greet that day with Marlins season ticket holders. Morrison had recently finished an autograph session and was upset with the Marlins' handling of a charity bowling event that had to be canceled due to lack of interest. He spoke about the issues to Helms, the team's union representative. While Helms did attend the event, Morrison ultimately did not, and hours later neither were with the big league club.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Capozzi had some reactions from Morrison, who told reporters he was "heartbroken," and said that manager Jack McKeon, President of Baseball Operations Larry Beinfest, and GM Mike Hill neglected to discuss his 17 home runs or 60 RBI on the season, but focused solely on the batting average. For what it's worth, Morrison's .791 OPS also ranks third on the team behind Mike Stanton and Gaby Sanchez.
In this special piece for MLB.com, Danny Villavicencio has quotes from Beinfest on the club's decision:
"I never thought we'd see Logan hitting in the .240s, ever," Beinfest said. "Obviously, he's a much better hitter than he's shown. I'm not going to pin that on it as a specific, but he needs to work on all aspects of being a Major Leaguer, and then he'll come back here."
Beinfest pointed to Jose Lopez's big Triple-A numbers and a desire to improve the bench as a reason for the release of Helms, who was batting just .191 after last night's game.
In addition to being second on the team in home runs and third in OPS, Morrison and agent Fred Wray can also point out that this move could hamper his service time, potentially costing him money in the long run and prolonging his journey to free agency. This isn't the first time this year that Morrison has clashed with the Marlins organization, either. He was asked to tone down his Twitter account earlier this season, and has been said to be too candid with the media.
Based on Beinfest's repetition that Morrison "needs to focus on all aspects of being a Major Leaguer," it certainly seems like there could be more to the situation than just his on-field performance. That will be up to the Players Union to decide, however.
Helms, 35, was hitting .193/.279/.239 at the time of his release. The Marlins signed him to a one-year, $1MM extension through 2011 last August, at which point there was talk of him remaining with the organization beyond his playing days as a coach.
Helms is a career .256/.318/.405 hitter in parts of 13 seasons with the Braves, Brewers, Marlins and Phillies, mostly as a reserve and pinch-hitter. His best season was in 2003, when he hit .261/.330/.450 with 23 homers as an everyday player for Milwaukee.
The past few seasons haven't been especially productive ones for Helms, so there's a chance he could call it a career here.
The Marlins have signed Wes Helms to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2011, tweets Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. Helms had been in the final year of a two-year, $1.9MM deal, but now appears poised to remain a Marlin through next season.
The 34-year-old has served as a part-time third baseman for Florida this year, hitting .226/.301/.362 in 296 plate appearances. Those numbers are roughly in line with what Helms has done for the duration of his three-year stint in Florida (.248/.306/.357). Despite his uninspiring slash line, Helms' presence on the bench is valued highly by the Marlins. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro noted prior to the trade deadline that even if the team traded Helms, they may have tried to re-sign him in the winter, since they envision him as a future coach in their organization.
Indians third baseman Jhonny Peralta is in the mix along with Florida's Wes Helms as potential bench options for the Yankees, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal says the prices on Jose Bautista and Ty Wigginton are too high.
Peralta has a substantial commitment for a bench player, with $2.23MM remaining on his contract. He's hitting .252/.314/.401 on the season.
The Yankees were first linked to Helms four days ago by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, but Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post tweets today that he's not their first choice. Other available bench options capable of playing third base include Willie Bloomquist, Adam Kennedy, and Craig Counsell.
The Rangers have been connected to Ty Wigginton, Mike Lowell and Jorge Cantu and we can now add a new name to the list of corner infielders they have had interest in: Wes Helms. MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers have had interest in Helms, though no deal for him or any other player is imminent. Assistant GM Thad Levine confirmed to Sullivan that the Rangers are looking to add depth around Chris Davis.
"For quite some time, we have been looking for a right-handed complement [at first base]," Levine said. "That hasn't changed as a piece we'd like to add."
The Rangers hope to see Davis translate his minor league success (.958 OPS in Triple A) into major league production. They can’t take on salary, so Levine and others in the Rangers front office are hoping Davis can start hitting.
Helms, 34, has just $390K remaining on his contract before he becomes a free agent. The corner infielder has only played four games at first base since 2008, but he has played 300 games at the position in his career. The Yankees are also interested in Helms, who is hitting .241/.296/.388 this season.
The Rangers do not seem high on Xavier Nady, according to Sullivan. The 31-year-old has many incentives in his contract that could inflate his price, but Nady has not hit well for the Cubs so far in 2010.
Helms' ability to fill in at third base, designated hitter, or pinch hit off of the bench is attractive to the Yanks. The club could be keeping an eye on him as they have scouts on hand for the Marlins' weekend series at home against the Nationals.
In 124 plate appearances this season, Helms has posted a slash line of .243/.298/.391 with three homers.
If Helms, 34, does get traded, there is a strong possibility he could end up returning to the Marlins in 2011. He is a free agent after this season and the organization is high on the veteran.
The further out of contention the Marlins fall, the more willing they'll be to entertain trading their veteran players, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. According to Frisaro, Florida could listen to offers for anyone besides Josh Johnson and Hanley Ramirez.
Frisaro names Jorge Cantu as the most likely Marlin to be dealt before the trade deadline, since the 28-year-old will be eligible for free agency after this season and may be out of the Marlins' price range. The club could also explore what's available in exchange for arbitration-eligible players such as Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, and even Ricky Nolasco, as Ken Rosenthal suggested yesterday. Nate Robertson and Wes Helms might appeal to some teams as well, though Frisaro notes that the Marlins like Helms a lot, and picture him becoming a coach in their system when he retires.
We've heard that the Marlins are searching for bullpen help, and they may also look to add offensive pieces. Presumably though, if they decide to trade veterans like Cantu or Uggla, the team would be looking less for immediate help and more to the future.