Yankees close to acquiring Vernon Wells from Angels

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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.

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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.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.