The Yankees’ front office sure is getting desperate.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, there are serious trade talks taking place between the Angels and Yankees concerning outfielder Vernon Wells. Passan says the deal could be completed by the end of the day Sunday if Wells signs off on it.
Wells has a full no-trade clause, but the Yankees can offer him much more playing time than he would get this year in Anaheim behind Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Peter Bourjos. Then again, Wells has stated that he plans to retire from baseball after the 2014 season so maybe he doesn’t care about reestablishing himself as a viable starting outfielder.
Wells batted just .230/.279/.403 with 11 homers and 29 RBI in 262 plate appearances last season for the Halos. The 34-year-old is owed a $21 million salary in 2013 and another $21 million in 2014.
UPDATE, 3:54 PM ET: ESPN’s Buster Olney heard from a source that Wells is “excited about the possibility” of playing for the Yankees and that there’s a “strong chance” a swap gets done. The Angels will have to eat a large majority of the money still owed to Wells, so working everything out could take some time.
UPDATE, 4:12 PM ET: CBS Sports’ Scott Miller reports that the Yanks are looking over Wells’ medicals.
UPDATE, 4:30 PM ET: According to Passan, Wells has informed the Angels that he will accept the deal. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times adds that Wells’ things are being removed from the Angels’ spring training complex. It sounds like there are only a few more minor details to be worked out.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.