The 43-year-old free agent split time with Boston and San Diego last season, going 3-5 with a 4.42 ERA. Let the speculation begin.
This could be nothing, or it could be something. Something big. Brett Myers for a hitter big. Doubts about character, temperament, and the belief he could be replaced are not only probable, but likely from the Phillies front office. In this crazy climate, desperate teams will view Myers as an ace. The Phils may be less inclined to entertain such a notion.
Trading Myers was inconceivable just three months ago, with the prospect of losing two starters via free agency. But circumstances have changed. Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton are in, and Jon Lieber is still hanging around as a sixth starter. The Phillies also came away empty handed in their quest for a marquee hitter, and it's been suggested that general manager Pat Gillick is still hot for a bat, and not the part-time Trot Nixon variety, either.
Bullpen remains the Phillies’ top priority, but under the surface, they have other issues. The team will soon require a complete outfield overhaul. Pat Burrell has two years remaining on his contract and it’s no secret the Phillies have been trying to move him. Center fielder Aaron Rowand will become a free agent after the season. The farm system is producing few answers, with Michael Bourn, the best of the bunch, projecting as a fourth outfielder.
If the Phillies were to acquire another starter, like Boomer, they would be in better shape to flip from a strength to address this issue. Myers is about to become expensive through arbitration, but his value, at 26-years-old, is very high. Gillick recently visited the right-hander at his home in Florida, with speculation that it could have been to gage Myers’ future. After the Garcia trade, there was also a report from Jayson Stark on ESPN that Myers’ name was circulating the way Josh Beckett’s was with Boston. Myers is eligible for free agency after the 2008 season.
We've talked about Manny, we've talked about Rocco, but one name that hasn’t been mentioned much on Beerleaguer is Carl Crawford, whose value has quietly gone through the roof since teams started going nuts with contracts. Crawford, 25, signed a four-year deal before the 2005 season with club options for 2009 and 2010. This is one of the most attractive contracts in baseball. There are two reasons Tampa Bay would consider moving the toolsy star. First, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes are two of the top outfield prospects in the game. Second, the organization needs to start winning some ballgames, and that means more pitching. Myers would also fit the profile of someone they could lock up long-term where he could stay close to home. Crawford is a left-handed hitter with good pop and blazing speed. Simply put: He could balance their offense like no other. Considering the quality of the contract - post free agent frenzy - it might take Myers, and more, to land Crawford.
To have the guts to pull it off, the Phillies would need faith in the health of Wells in addition to what they already have, plus, confidence in their arms down on the farm to produce starting in 2008. Several prospects, including Matt Maloney, Carlos Carrasco, J.A. Happ and Josh Outman, took strides in their progress toward the majors last season, with Happ being the closest to the majors. Scott Mathieson, also considered in the mix, will miss next season with Tommy John surgery.
Wells has not been used in relief since 1993, and it seems unlikely he would accept such a role, especially back on the East Coast. The Padres and Diamondbacks are also suitors, though both are reportedly focusing on Randy Johnson. The story in the Globe also mentions the Mets as a possibility.
One other point of note: Wells was a 1982 draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, under the watchful eye of – you guessed it – Pat Gillick.