According to Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies have been talking to the Toronto Blue Jays about a deal that would send Bobby Abreu to the Blue Jays for center fielder Vernon Wells.
How’s this for prophetic: I started writing this post yesterday. When I read a day earlier that GM Pat Gillick had been talking to the Blue Jays, I began to speculate on who would interest Gillick most. Tops on my list: Vernon Wells.
As I wrote in yesterday’s post on Kenny Lofton, I thought there was a good chance Gillick would pursue a top-flight defensive specialist for center field. I thought it could have been Torii Hunter, but it appears Wells is also on his radar. While I’m not an expert on Toronto, I know enough to know Wells is a premium center fielder.
The hot stove can really roar when talking Toronto. GM J.P. Ricciardi doesn't really keep his intentions secret. He likes wheeling and dealing, and the organization, from the big club down, is brimming with possibilities, both young and old. They are a team on the rise, and a team with chips to trade.
One look at their roster finds an exciting selection of players who can help the Phillies. The Jays can offer young pitching, infield, sparkling defenders and veterans. A deal for Abreu could fetch two, three, maybe four players depending on their level of experience, but a swap for Wells might go straight up or involve some cash.
Wells would help the Phils most right off the bat. He was rumored in a deal to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield this season. Wells, who hit 28 homers and 97 RBIs and earned about $3 million, would make an exceptional fit for center field and would give the Phils more right-handed pop. Unlike Abreu, Wells is a legitimate Gold Glover, and would give Gillick a Devon White-type player he may covet.
In my mind, Abreu could get them Wells and perhaps a throw-in pitcher, which could include Ted Lilly, rumored to be coming to Philadelphia this season when Randy Wolf went on the shelf.
If Wells comes, expect either Jason Michaels, Shane Victorino or Endy Chavez to go.
In addition to Wells, among the veterans I see Ted Lilly (pitcher facing arbitration, involved in many Phils rumors), Shea Hillenbrand (1B/3B voted team MVP by teammates), Gregg Zaun (steady veteran switch-hitting defensive catcher, but old), and Orlando Hudson (perhaps the best defensive second baseman in AL). Why would they need him? Only if they're shopping both Thome and Howard - another interesting, albeit unpopular, idea, or plan on using Utley and Howard in different capacities, including Howard in right, Utley at first, or Utley in the outfield. The last option is interesting, isn't it, though Utley doesn't have much of a cannon.
Again, it would be great to get a Toronto fan to stop in to offer their take on the situation. This isn't a team I follow. I see an exciting selection of possibilities here, but tops on my list would be Wells and prospects. Abreu could fetch a handful of youngsters, some pitching, or could even go straight up for Wells. It’s the kind of move designed to shake things up, like the Podsednik for Lee deal last year. Could Wells benefit from a change of scenery? Could Abreu? The last time he wore another jersey he smoked 41 in the home run derby.