Jason Beck of MLB.com suggested what many fans and prognosticators have been suggesting for much of the past few months, the possibility that the Tigers might re-acquire Casper Wells from the Seattle Mariners if he doesn't fit into Seattle's plans for the 2013 season.
Who is going to be out there on the market next week for the Tigers to acquire? Maybe Casper Wells doesn’t make the Mariners roster. Maybe the Tigers can parlay their depth in another spot, maybe an extra reliever, into an extra outfielder.
Perhaps the possibility isn't so far fetched, or perhaps it's just wishful thinking. The Tigers have made no secret of the fact that they would like to have a right handed hitting outfielder to share time with Andy Dirks in left field. For a while, it looked as though they might have found their man with rule five selection Jeff Kobernus. Not. Kobernus was sent back to the Nationals, with Dave Dombrowski stating that they had found someone that they like better, internally.
That someone is Matt Tuiasosopo, a non roster invitee, who is profiled in a separate story on this page. Tuiasosopo was unable to catch on with the Mariners since being drafted in 2004, and has spent the past two seasons at the triple-A level.
As you know, Wells was a very well liked right handed hitting outfielder who was part of the package sent to Seattle in the trade that brought Doug Fister to the Tigers. He bats right, plays all three outfield positions well, and has a career line of .264/.349/.489/.838 with 13 homers and 40 RBI in just over 300 plate appearances against left handed pitchers.
Last year, Wells hit .267/.364/.527/.891 with seven homers and 20 RBI in 150 PA vs lefties. He posted the fifth best wOBA vs lefties among all AL outfielders with 150 plate appearances or more. Against right handers, he has not fared as well, hitting .230/.287/.388/.675 for his career, but the power is still there. He strikes out about a quarter of the time, which is a concern, but he posted an overall WAR of plus 1.2 as a part timer last season.
Why would we think that Seattle, after being fleeced by Detroit in the Fister trade, would want to give Wells back to the Tigers? Well, he was a part time outfielder in Seattle last year, logging just over 300 plate appearances, but they've gone out and acquired Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Raoul Ibanez to go along with highly rated Michael Saunders and Franklyn Gutierrez. Ibanez will likely spend a lot of time at DH, but they also have Kendrys Morales from the Angels, and Justin Smoak, their incumbent first baseman to share those at bats. Eric Thames and Carlos Peguero are also looking for time in the outfield but will start the season in the minors.
It's a big numbers game in Seattle, and It doesn't help that Wells is hitting just .188 this spring with a pair of home runs in 50 plate appearances. More importantly, Wells is out of options and the Mariners would likely be forced to release Jason Bay in order to keep him. Bay is having a very good spring, hitting 342/.432/.605/1.037. More to the point, he's been healthy, and the club signed him as a low risk- high reward project hoping just that he'd be able to stay on the field. Here is a story on Lookout Landing, a Mariner's blog, giving one perspective and some comments on Wells vs Bay.
Here is a look at the spring stats for the outfielders competing for jobs in Seattle. A very crowded field, to say the least.
As much as fans like to toss around trade ideas this time of year, the actual number of trades is relatively small. Let's look at all the trades that the Tigers have made in the last two weeks of spring training since Dave Dombrowski has been the Tigers' GM.
2010- Nate Robertson for minor leaguer Jay Voss, who never made it to Detroit.
2009- Rudy Darrow for Josh Anderson, who was sold to the Royals that July.
2003- Cody Ross for Steve Colyer, who was dealt for Matt Ginter in 2005.
That's it folks. There always seems to be talk of a last minute deal, but the only players that seem to be available this time of year are those that fail to make their team and are out of options.
As for the other end of the deal, Jason Beck suggested that the Tigers might be able to send Seattle some of their surplus of relief pitching. Maybe a Darin Downs or Luis Marte? That would be nice for Detroit, but it looks to me like Seattle is in much greater need of offense, particularly in the infield and more particularly at shortstop. Now, you see where this discussion could spin out of control.
Casper Wells is good enough to play in the major leagues, either in Seattle or for another club, so if the M's don't keep him, they'll be able to get something for him in a trade.Like Josh Anderson, Matt Ginter, and Steve Colyer, Wells is a player out of options with a roster that's out of room, so the talk has some more merit under those circumstances. But then again, the Tigers have Don Kelly.