Can we Jeremy Jeffress Casper Wells away from Seattle? Should We?

Perhaps the one down side to the strong moves made by Alex Anthopolous this offseason is it has greatly reduced the amount of rosterbation and discussion surrounding the roster moving into Spring Training. Generally it has come down to a few questions: Who should start at second? Who will be the closer? And who should (and hopefully will) platoon with Lind?

That being said I saw an interesting article on mlbtraderumors suggesting that young Casper Wells could be the odd man out of the Seattle outfield following the acquisitions of Bay, Morse, Morales, Ibanez and with Smoak, Gutierrez, Montero and Saunders already on the roster. Wells has no options remaining (unlike former Jay depth outfielder Eric Thames) and is highly unlikely to pass through waivers. While you could certainly argue a case that Seattle won't let Wells go for next to nothing in favour of older players, but they're DFA'ing of Mike Carp suggests that the philosophy of out with the new and in with the old may be realer then most think.

Alex Anthopolous has said that the deal to get Jeremy Jeffress was for essentially paying a small amount of extra cash to bypass the waiver line and acquire him before he was claimed. Seattle may be able to draw out more in a trade but for the sake of this post, let's assume Casper Wells is attainable for the Jays at a reasonable cost (certainly nothing off the Major League roster).

Given that acquiring a player with no options would mean removing another player from the 25-man we can only assume that it is either Rajai Davis or Mark Derosa that would be DFA'd or traded. Much to the chagrin of many readers here it would not likely be Derosa as his utility abilities in the infield and "veteran prescence" are needed on the roster. Also Rajai Davis may have trade value if Wells was acquired, perhaps to a team like the Mets, where Derosa can't be moved before June 15.

So for the purpose of this post the question is this:

Is Casper Wells a better option as the Jay's 4/5th outfielder then Rajai Davis?

To answer this I am going to compare them in the following categories: - ability at the plate (with a focus vs. LHP as they would represent a Lind Platoon Option) - base running, stealing and value as a pinch runner - defensive capabilities - Cost and Long Term Value

Comparative Biography:

Wells Davis
Age 28 32
Bats R R
Throws R R
ML Service Time 2.04 5.167
2013 Salary $500k $2.5 M
Team Control 2017 2014

So you have two RH hitting outfielders, with Wells being 4 years younger with 4 seasons of team control with 3 of them being his arbitration years. Conceptually, Wells has the opportunity to still be entering his prime where as Davis may be on the decline but with only one year left on Davis' contract, the decline does not represent much risk. What about these two offensively:

Career Wells Davis
Games 224 713
PA 656 2280
AB 593 2100
BB% 7.6% 5.7%
K% 25.9% 16.8%
AVG 0.246 0.270
OBP 0.317 0.317
SLG 0.435 0.377
HR 25 21
PA/HR 26.24 108.57
wRC+ 109 87

While Davis has considerably more experience and strikes out less then Wells, he clearly has less power, walks less, and the two reach base at about an equivalent rate. However, as has been discussed ad nauseam on this site, Rajai is a significantly better hitter against LHP, and is a potential platoon option for Lind, so let's see how the two compare on this front.

Career Vs.LHP Wells Davis
PA 313 754
AB 276 686
BB% 10.2% 7.8%
K% 26.2% 15.4%
AVG 0.264 0.290
OBP 0.349 0.349
SLG 0.489 0.417
HR 13 9
PA/HR 24.08 83.78
wRC+ 132 108
wRC+ 109 87

Again, while posting the exact same OBP, Wells offers significantly more power, and walks more though striking out more as well. The wRC+ stat tells the story, Wells would be an even better option as a Lind platoon then Rajai. However, Rajai is known for his speed once he reaches base, so given the similar OBP, does his speed counteract the lack of power.

Base Running Wells Davis
SB 6 223
CS 3 62
SB% 67% 78%
UBR 1.6 14
UBR/150 Games 0.007 0.020

So clearly, Rajai is the significantly better base stealer and more of a threat off the bench as a pinch runner which is valuable as a 4/5th outfielder. One thing I've been thinking about though, is given Bonifacio is already on the bench, and the speed in the starting line-up and the guys you wouldn't substitute most of the time how much pinch running opportunity will Rajai have. That being said, his speed does help compensate for the lack of power, so let's examine Defense and treat it as somewhat of a tie-breaker.

Def. Exp. Innings Wells Davis
LF 588 1240
CF 176 3086
RF 637 443

Def. Ratings Wells Davis
UZR LF 5.7 -10.9
UZR/150 LF 15 -12.9
UZR CF 3.1 -2.6
UZR/150 CF 22.7 -1.2
UZR RF 4.8 3.7
UZR/150 RF 11.6 11.2

No matter how you cut it, Well's is the better defender across all three outfield positions. This represents a lot of value to this Blue Jay's team, because this makes him a reasonable platoon option for Rasmus as well as Lind, or can play the corner spots while Bautista and Cabrera DH providing a defensive upgrade. This also counteracts some of Rajai's speed as the defensive upgrade late in ball games could be valuable.

Cost and Long Term Value:

Rajai Davis is under contract for one year with a salary of $2.5 million. Wells will make the league minimum this year and has 3 arbitration years left of team control. I'm not going into surplus value because I don't think WAR treats bench players appropriately, but I think it's safe to say that a $2 million dollar savings in 2013 and 3 more years of control represents significant value. Also if you look at the context of the Blue Jay's, this represents their window of contention and if Gose comes up and fails to hit LHP, a Wells/Gose platoon for 2014-2016 should be a productive and cost effective option in CF.

So obviously there is all sorts of problems speculating on one player, but I couldn't resist a little pre-season speculating and still have the desire to see the roster get even better. The net result of my simple and highly flawed analysis is this:

Wells Davis
Offensive Production + -
vs. LHP + +
Baserunning ++
Defence ++ -
Long Term Value +

So for me, if I could have Casper Wells, I would move Rajai Davis in order to do it.

What about you?

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