Report: Phillies interested in Vernon Wells

Report: Phillies interested in Vernon Wells
January 20, 2014, 9:30 am
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Vernon Wells has a .267 on-base percentage since 2011. (USA Today Images)

Delmon Young, Part II?

The Phillies have expressed interest in 35-year-old outfielder Vernon Wells, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Wells, a three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner with the Blue Jays once upon a time, has been epically bad in recent years.

From 2011-13, Wells hit .226 with a .267 on-base percentage and .387 slugging percentage. He walked just 66 times in 1,249 plate appearances, which shakes out to once every 19 trips to the dish. Among 226 qualified players, Wells' .267 OBP over that three-year span ranked 224th. Only Yuniesky Betancourt, who was the Phils' final spring training cut last year, and J.P. Arencibia had lower marks.

This reported interest immediately calls to the mind the signing of Young to a one-year deal last offseason. It wasn't the price with Young that was bothersome, it was that you knew a few hundred plate appearances would be wasted on a proven, below-average hitter when cheaper, younger options existed.

And Young was actually significantly better than Wells the last three years:

Wells: .226/.267/.387
Young: .266/.301/.404

If the Phillies do add Wells, it would almost certainly be on a minor-league deal. (The Angels are paying him $18.6 million in 2014.) And he wouldn't get regular playing time like Young did early in 2013. The Phils would be bringing Wells in (hopefully) to play against lefties and lefties only.

From 2011-13, Wells hit .267/.315/.437 against southpaws, with 16 homers and 19 doubles in 419 at-bats. He's serviceable against opposite-handed pitching, and could probably fill the role as well as, if not better than, John Mayberry Jr.

Defensively, Wells is adequate. He played center for a number of years and has settled in at the corners. Playing left and right field for the Yankees last season, Wells had eight outfield assists in just 96 games.

While you can expect Ruben Amaro Jr. to be criticized heavily if Wells is brought in -- as it would be yet another low-OBP signing -- such a move could actually prove beneficial if Wells is used against left-handed pitchers only.

It would be a bit redundant with Mayberry on the roster, and the Phils are much more in need of a left-handed power bat off the bench, but on a non-guaranteed contract worth the major-league minimum, it wouldn't be a train wreck.