Vernon Wells

“Maybe it’s just society”: Vernon Wells won’t opt out of deal

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Vernon Wells has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out and become a free agent after this season.

There was never much chance of him using that to get out of a seven-year, $126 million deal, but those odds are firmly entrenched at 0.00 percent after a career-worst season that has seen the 32-year-old hit .219 with a ghastly .252 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage in 121 games.

Wells has three seasons and $63 million left on the deal and predictably told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he “wasn’t planning on using it.” Of course, he spun it in a slightly different way:

Why would you waive your no-trade clause [to accept a trade to the Angels] and then opt out one year later? I never really thought about using it. You do a contract and you ask for certain things. That happened to be one I asked for and got. To be honest with you, I think about it as often as I think about the money.

Maybe it’s just society, but people put too much on struggling. All of a sudden, everything is negative–you’re a bad guy; you’re unhappy. It’s a struggle, yeah. But that’s all it is. I’ve struggled before. Baseball is such a different game. You can be an All-Star one year, struggle the next year and become an All-Star again. It is what it is. This is a great place to live, a great place to play. I’ve got a lot of good years left and I look forward to having them there.

Wells could be playing for a last-place team in Antarctica and he’d still never opt out of a three-year, $63 million deal, so the stuff about loving California is a pretty iffy rationalization.

Wells is right that he’s capable of bouncing back from a terrible year, as he did so in 2008 and 2010, but the reason the Angels’ trade for him was so widely mocked at the time is that he could have had strong seasons from now until the end of the contract and still wouldn’t be worth the money or what they gave up to get him. The fact that he completely collapsed just changed the trade from bad to horrendous.

Or, you know, “maybe it’s just society.”

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in a boating accident

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Horrible news: Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash off of Miami Beach late last night.

No details have been released yet, apart from the fact that Fernandez was one of three people killed. The Marlins have issued a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, stating that the organization is devastated and that their thoughts and prayers were with Fernandez’s family. Today’s Marlins game against the Braves has been canceled.

Fernandez was only 24 years old. Though only in his fourth season in the majors, he was easily one of the best and most exciting pitchers in the game. In his four seasons he won 38 games and posted a fantastic ERA of 2.58 while striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. He was an electric presence on the mound and was poised to become one of baseball’s most highly-paid and entertaining superstars.

His baseball exploits seem trivial now, however. His loss at such a young age, tragic. Our thoughts today are with Fernandez’s family, the Marlins organization and those who knew and loved him.

The Nationals are NL East champs once again

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after clinching the National League East Division Championship after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 at PNC Park on September 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Another day, another division title in the bag. The Nationals coasted to a 6-1 finish over the Pirates on Saturday evening; coupled with a Mets’ loss later that night, the NL East title was theirs for the third time since 2012.

The Nationals put up a three-spot in the first and fourth innings, scoring five of six runs on productive outs while Washington starter Joe Ross tossed 2  innings of one-run ball in his second start off the disabled list. Prior to the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed reluctant to delegate a set number of pitches to the right-hander, opting instead to base Ross’s workload on his performance.

Washington’s bullpen carried the team the rest of the way, combining for 6 ⅓ scoreless frames to preserve their five-run lead. When Anthony Rendon snared a liner from Andrew McCutchen to end the game, all eyes turned to the clubhouse TVs:

Murphy had sufficient cause for worry: After trailing 10-0 through four innings, the Mets returned with an eight-run drive that culminated with Jay Bruce‘s solo shot in the ninth inning. Had Bruce hit the home run after Philadelphia closer Michael Mariot issued a pair of walks, and not before, the Mets would have edged out the Phillies, 11-10. Instead, their late-game rally ended on a fastball down the middle, and the Phillies’ 70th victory confirmed the Nats’ place atop the NL East.

While Max Scherzer donned his two-toned goggles and Bryce Harper braved the champagne showers in U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s swim cap, Baker was already thinking about Sunday’s start. Against the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, Baker announced his plans to start 24-year-old A.J. Cole, whose seven starts have yielded a 4.68 ERA and 0.2 fWAR in 32 ⅔ innings this year.

Cole hasn’t displayed the sharpest stuff in his sophomore season, touting a high 3.03 BB/9 and 1.93 HR/9, but with the division locked down and the Cubs in sole possession of home field advantage through the NLCS, the Nationals have bigger concerns as the playoffs draw near.