Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Phillies have recently expressed interest in current free agent outfielder Vernon Wells. Wells was released by the Yankees last week and the Angels are paying the majority of his $21 million salary for 2014, so acquiring Wells is as cheap and risk-free as it can get.
Wells just turned 35 and hasn’t been an above-average regular since 2010, his last year with the Blue Jays. Since then, his offense has all but disappeared, dropping from an .847 OPS in 2010 to a career-low .631 last season. His defense and base running, which used to be assets, have become hindrances to his value.
That being said, Wells can still be a useful platoon or a bench bat. Wells posted an OPS near .700 against lefties and he has historically hit lefties even better than that. The Phillies already have two right-handed hitters, who should be used in a platoon situation but won’t be, in John Mayberry and Darin Ruf, but another team may be able to find a spot for Wells.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.