Purely rosterbatory in nature. No shred of truth (to my knowledge) that the Rays are interested in these players or that their teams would move them.
The Athletics are supposedly contemplating adding a few more relievers to their bullpen. This is notable because their bullpen is already pretty full. Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler, Craig Breslow, and even Jerry Blevins are present. That goes without suggesting Rich Harden or Brandon McCarthy could also find themselves throwing relief. If the A’s do add a Chad Qualls or Hideki Okajima, then one pitcher could find himself on the outside looking in. Aware readers will infer that I’m suggesting Wuertz. The Rays were hot and heavy for the right-hander during 2009. If history teaches us anything, it’s that one bad season will not dissuade the Rays from pursuit.
Wuertz pitched poorly in 2010 but his career whiff rate is a wicked 16% and his career ERA and FIP sit comfortably in the mid-3s. He’s a capable late innings reliever making reasonable wages ($2.8 million next season with a $3.25 million option in 2012 – or a quarter of a million buyout). Assuming he’s healthy, he’s a good bet to bounce back. The Athletics know that, so this wouldn’t be a filler-for-killer swap, but someone – if not Wuertz – will have to go from that crowded pen barring an injury.
With all the offseason splash moves made, it’s safe to say Detroit is going for gold in 2011. Yet, the backend of their rotation includes (right now) some combination of Phil Coke – a starter-turned-reliever-attempting-to-turn-starter-again –, Armando Galarraga – a gentleman but a pretty mediocre pitcher -, and Andy Oliver. The Rays have depth and if the Tigers find the pricetags on free agent starters like Brad Penny a little too rich for their liking, perhaps would be interested in someone like Andy Sonnanstine.
That’s where Wells come into play. Kevin Goldstein ranked him as the 10th and 11th best prospect in the Tigers’ system over the last two seasons. Baseball America was not as kind, but Wells’ minor league numbers are impressive. In more than 650 plate appearances in Double-A, Wells has hit .274/.372/.535. His 430 plate appearances in Triple-A are less impressive (.233/.309/.483), but Wells may have made up for it by lighting up the majors (99 plate appearances: .323/.364/.538).
He’s a right-handed hitter with enough athleticism to play center with a strong arm, yet the potential to hit like a corner outfielder. He walks and hits for pop – and yes, he strikes out – still, though, Wells could come in handy if the Rays plan to use Ben Zobrist in the infield and to eventually trade B.J. Upton. In the meanwhile, Wells could help hold Desmond Jennings’ service time down or platoon with Joyce.
I’m not sure I’d do Sonnanstine for Wells straight up — and I’m not sure if they would either — but I’d certainly think it over.