Wells DFA’d by Blue Jays … so now what?

WellsCasperOutfielder Casper Wells was designated for assignment today by the Blue Jays, having yet to even play in a game for Toronto after being claimed off waivers last week from the Mariners.

While that is surprising on the surface, it probably shouldn’t be stunning for one simple reason. The Blue Jays have done this sort of thing before, claiming a player they think might have value and then seeing if they can trade him or get him through waivers on their own to keep him in the system.

Tough situation for Wells, who now must sit through another 10-day waiting period to see if the Blue Jays trade, release or option him to the Minors. Just as with the Mariners, Wells would have to clear waivers before being sent to Toronto’s Triple-A club in Buffalo since he is out of Minor League options.

This is part of the business of baseball, a tough part for the player involved as they play the waiting game. The Mariners just acquired pitcher Aaron Harang in a somewhat similar situation as he was acquired from the Dodgers by the Rockies, who immediately DFA’d him and then saw what they could get in a trade.

I’m told the Blue Jays were figuring to DFA Wells once Brett Lawrie returned from the disabled list, but wound up pulling the trigger sooner because they needed a bullpen arm. So they’ll see if there is any market value for Wells now.

As the Mariners learned, there wasn’t a big clamor for Wells two weeks ago. Most team’s 25-man rosters are filled around Opening Day with players of value to their own clubs and any team claiming Wells had to be ready to release someone else to keep him on their 25-man roster.

The obvious question is whether the Mariners would be interested now in getting Wells back, given the rash of injuries to their outfield with Michael Morse out with a fractured little finger, Michael Saunders on the disabled list with a sprained shoulder and Franklin Gutierrez being played cautiously with ongoing sore legs.

I don’t have any immediate insight there as today is an offday for the Mariners, other than noting that Morse isn’t expected to be out for more than a few more days at the most. Saunders will likely be out for a couple more weeks. Gutierrez is an ongoing question mark, but one the Mariners were already dealing with when they let Wells go in the first place.

The Mariners made the choice to go with Jason Bay over Wells two weeks ago and there’s no reason to think they’ve changed their mind on that specific question. Bay has hit .200 (5-for-25) with a double, home run and two RBIs in 10 games. Not great, but not much different than what they had seen from Wells in the past.

Endy Chavez has done a decent job filling in at center field with Gutierrez and Saunders both out. He’s hit .250 (3-for-12) and played solid defense. Clearly the 35-year-old isn’t the long-term answer, but the Mariners didn’t seem to think Wells was either or else they’d have kept him on their original 25-man roster.

It’s worth noting that the Rangers are currently in the same process with outfielder Julio Borbon, a 27-year-old lefty who they DFA’d a week. Borbon, who has hit .283 in parts of three seasons with the Majors and is a good defender with speed and leadoff ability, reportedly has generated at least some minor trade interest. He was a 2007 first-round draft pick who spent last year at Triple-A Round Rock and hit .304 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

But again, with Borbon, Wells or any other player who is out of options, the question for any team is whether adding them is worth jettisoning another player.

For Seattle, making a deal with the Rangers for Borbon or trying to bring Wells back could easily be made in the short term by parting with Chavez. But barring further injury, as soon as Saunders is healthy again, it would be back to the same question of either DFA’ing that player again, or cutting ties with Bay or fellow backup outfielder Raul Ibanez.

That’s why it seems the biggest question revolves around Saunders’ long-term prognosis. If there’s any chance of him being out more than a few weeks, the Mariners would be wise to cover themselves better in center field, given Gutierrez’s history.

I’ve been a proponent of trying to bring Borbon on board as a quality addition to the outfield mix since he can play center field and also lead off, in essence a younger version of Chavez with more upside.

But even in his case, if Saunders is capable of returning by the end of April and Gutierrez proves capable of playing on close to an every-day basis, the Mariners would then find themselves back in the same spot.

That’s why even with the current string of injuries, the notion of simply reversing course on Wells — particularly since it’ll likely be another 10 days before he’s even available — isn’t just a slam-dunk decision. As always, there are lots of moving parts to ponder.

1 Comment

nice job in illustrating the complexities that face the GM at the margins of the 25 man roster.

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