The Mariners made the move we all pretty much expecting, keeping Jason Bay as the fifth outfielder and designating Casper Wells for assignment.
There actually a series of moves (below). Perhaps the most curious at first glance is the selection of right-hander D.J. Mitchell to the 40-man roster. The reason for this is simple. By selecting Mitchell, the Mariners were able to designated Wells for assignment. Because Wells is out of options, and under spring training rules, the Mariners would have to release him had they simply taken him off the 25-man roster. But because they made the roster move to select Mitchell, Wells is under normal DFA rules. Call it a loophole, or a technicality, the move allows the organization to have 10 days to either trade, outright or release Wells. They also can hold off putting Wells on waivers for a few days, making it more likely for him to pass through without being claimed.
Also it is important to have Mitchell on the 40-man roster. He has major league experience. And could be used in an emergency start – or pitch in long relief – if something were to happen and the Mariners didn’t want to use Erasmo Ramirez or Danny Hultzen.
If Wells does clear waivers, he can be outrighted to Tacoma. He doesn’t have enough service time to refuse the outright and become a free agent. If Wells does get claimed off of waivers, that team will have to put him on it’s 25-man roster immediately. And if he’s taken off, he must be designated for assignment again.
Jeff Sullivan of USS Mariner has a pretty fair and logical look at the move.
Here’s my thoughts: There are reasons to keep Wells – defense, club control. There are reasons to keep Bay – experience, hitting. The Mariners seemed to value the reasons for keeping Bay over the reasons for keeping Wells. Wedge seems to believe that the risk of not having a late inning defensive replacement is worth taking for what Bay could bring them. It’s his choice, and Zduriencik signed off on it. I really don’t get too worked up about a fifth outfielder situation – unless that fifth outfielder is Chone Figgins.
Wells is a fifth outfielder, who was given plenty of chances to be a starting outfielder. I’m not even talking about this spring training. From the time they traded for him, the Mariners have hoped the Wells could blossom into an every day outfielder or at least a platoon candidate. They gave him plenty of chances the last few seasons to become something more than a back-up. He hasn’t shown he can do that. And they simply got tired of waiting for him to figure it out. If he had taken advantage of those chances, the team never would have pursued Bay in the offseason. Wells didn’t and now he’s in baseball limbo.
Selected to Major League Roster (1):
Right-Handed Pitcher (1): D.J. Mitchell (Optioned to AAA Tacoma)
Designated for Assignment (1):
Outfielder (1): Casper Wells
Re-Assigned to Minor League Camp (1):
Right-handed Pitcher (1): Danny Farquhar
Catcher (1): Jesus Sucre
Infielder (1): Brad Miller
Outfielder (1): Endy Chavez