It would appear that Brain Cashman is finally wrapping up his offseason acquisition, and is now targeting a right handed outfielder. Though he’s already acquired a number of low risk players, such as Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz, the organization is still searching for a more stable option. At this point, the free agent market is barren of right handed hitting outfielders, and if he wants to acquire someone, it’ll have to be through a trade.
Nearly 3,000 miles away, Jack Zduriencik’s Seattle Mariners are fighting their way back to relevance. In an attempt to compete with a strong AL West, they’ve loaded their 40 man roster with bats. Their current starting outfield lines up as Franklin Gutierrez, Michael Morse, and Michael Saunders. They’ll be backed up by Jason Bay, Raul Ibanez, Mike Carp, Eric Thames, and Casper Wells. There’s even some talk about the Mariners having interest in free agent Michael Bourn. The team is loaded with outfield depth, and with Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, and Jesus Montero likely splitting time as designated hitters, many of these outfielders will be wasted sitting on the bench.
Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times sees Casper Wells as an odd man out in this scenario. Although the 28 year old outfielder corner stoned the Doug Fister deal in 2011, his role in 2013 is as a backup outfielder on a crowded bench. Of course, after hitting only .228/.302/.396 in 2012, it’s easy to understand why the Mariners are no longer infatuated by the right-hander. There’s more to Wells than his 2012 triple slash though.
Despite his awful batting averages in Seattle, Wells seems to be yet another hitter cursed by the old dimensions of Safeco Field. Over his career, Wells has hit .268/.331/.478 on the road, good for a 120 wRC+. He also holds strong career splits against left handed pitchers, a .264/.349/.489 triple slash with a 132 wRC+. In a limited 146 plate appearances away from home and against lefties, Wells is hitting .326/.404/.628 with a 182 wRC+. Despite his awful offense in 2012, he maintained a .192 wRC+ in these situations.
Overall, Wells has been an above average hitter over his short MLB career, despite Safeco Field stealing hits. Assuming the Yankees targeted Wells, the team would use him as the right handed hitting outfielder. Given the more hitter friendly ballparks of the AL East, and his role against left handed pitchers, there’s a possibility that he produces close to his splits. He’s also far from horrible against right handed pitchers, though they remain below average. Wells also takes his fair share of walks, and his BB% has improved every year since 2010. With that said, he also strikes out with a 25.9 K%, just shy of Curtis Granderson’s 28.5 K% in 2012.
He can’t be considered an elite defensive outfielder, but he can play all three position very well. UZR is a big fan, where he holds a 14.6 UZR/150 through all three outfield spots. He also maintains good arm strength and accuracy, generating 8 assists in 88 games last season.
In regards to this year’s payroll and the 2014 budget, he’s only first time arbitration eligible next season. If he were to finally have his breakout season, (a big if) the Yankees could pencil him in as a cheap starter next season, or at least a reliable platoon designated hitter.
The Yankees and Mariners match up as well as any teams for a trade. Over the last year, the two teams have made two substantial trades that swapped Jesus Montero and Michael Pineda, and later DJ Mitchell and Ichiro Suzuki. The Mariners have a very young team, and have very few needs. They could use a bit more depth in starters this year, but they have three top pitching prospects waiting in the minors. The same goes for the middle infield, where they have a number of shortstop prospects hiding in the upper levels. Though there’s no obvious need on the Mariners side, the team looks as if it has entered win-now territory. With Zduriencik’s familiarity with the Yankee system, a trade between the two teams could very easily work itself out.
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