Vernon Wells returned to Toronto over the weekend for the first time since being traded to the Angels this offseason and took the opportunity to study the Blue Jays’ video library for footage of his prime.
Wells told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that “2006 is the year I’m concentrating on” because “that was the year my average and power were where they should be.”
That season he hit .303 with 32 homers and a .900 OPS. This year Wells is batting .205 with a .611 OPS for by far the worst production of his career, making the Angels’ decision to trade for the 32-year-old and the $81 million remaining on his contract look even worse than it did at the time.
Wells explained that his “mechanics have been out of whack at different times” and was very productive last season, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time his performance has declined sharply. He followed up that excellent 2006 season by hitting just .245 with a .706 OPS and then hit .260 with a .711 OPS in 2009.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.